Getting arrested after police catch you asleep and drunk at the wheel isn't an uncommon occurrence. But do you have a good defense? It all depends on where you were, whether you intended to drive anytime soon and what you were doing in the hours and moments before the police came along.
Can You Be Arrested For DWI In Monmouth County, Even If You're Not Driving?
Many people assume drunk driving laws apply only to driving. But in New Jersey, that's not the case. The state's DWI statute specifically covers anyone who “operates” a motor vehicle while intoxicated. The law doesn't define in any detail what it means to operate a vehicle, but state courts have interpreted the term broadly. A number of drivers are charged with DWI after being discovered by police asleep at the wheel in parked cars, some with the engine running, others not.
The location of the driver, the vehicle and the car keys come into play when determining whether a person was “operating” a motor vehicle while under the influence. For example, if the car is still running with the keys in the ignition when the police discover the individual inside the car, it can be implied that they were operating the vehicle. Similarly, if the car is parked on the side of a highway, the court will likely find that the defendant had been driving the car shortly before stopping and falling asleep.
Alternatives To Sleeping In Your Car When Intoxicated
What steps can you take if you find yourself intoxicated with only your car as a place to sleep? First, call a taxi if you can. Calling another one in the morning is a lot cheaper than the consequences of a DWI charge. But if you have no other choice, make sure not to turn on the ignition. If it's freezing and you absolutely must, don't sit in the driver's seat. Park in a designated parking spot. If you have been arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated when you were found asleep in your car, and wondering “What is Operation?” – it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to see what legal defense you may have.