To keep it simple, yes you can. When an officer sees someone in his or her car, even if it is not moving, and he or she makes the determination that this person had the intent to drive, he or she may end up being cited for DUI. Although by law, circumstantial evidence is required.

Circumstantial Evidence for a DUI while parked

The law demands proof of your volitional movement of a car before being convicted of a DUI, though circumstantial evidence is sufficient to establish this vital element.

Circumstantial evidence that may prove you were driving include:

  • Warm engine
  • Warm tires
  • Keys in the ignition
  • Car in the middle of the roadway
  • Vehicle damaged and next to the scene of an accident
  • Gear is in drive
  • Your failure to explain the absence of an alternate driver if you deny being the driver or to give a credible explanation of where the driver is or the driver’s identity

If you happen to find yourself in a situation where you were sleeping or had pulled over to the shoulder, an officer can certainly conclude from indirect evidence that you had been driving the vehicle. If you display the effects of impairment or intoxication, you can be charged with a DUI.

How to avoid a DUI while parked

If you’ve had a few too many drinks and find yourself in a situation where you think you might want to sleep it off a bit, it will benefit you to remember a few tips:

  • First, and probably the most common mistake made, make sure you turn off your car and take the keys out of the ignition. Do not turn it back on (or even to the Accessory function).
  • Don’t park on the side of a busy road. Find a parking lot or a side road where parking is permissible.
  • If you’re going to take a little sobering nap, get out of the driver’s seat to take a that nap. The back seat is preferable, but even the passenger seat is better than falling asleep while in the driver’s seat.
  • If questioned by police, do not under any circumstances admit to any intent to drive in the near future.

With apps like UBER and LYFT nowadays it is very easy to avoid situations where you would get a DUI while parked. It is always best to find a sober driver after a night of drinking. However, if you do decide to take a nap in your car be sure that the keys are not anywhere near the ignition, and that it is clear that you have chosen not to drive that night.

This is a general article for example purposes.  As always, please contact us at 979-821-2663 regarding your specific case.