Driving under the influence (DUI) is a crime punishable by law. In 2016 alone, over one million people were arrested for driving under the influence, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, this does not mean that people charged with a DUI must have been driving at the time. Did you know you can be charged with DUI without driving?
You Can Get Charged with a DUI Even if You Are Sleeping in Your Car
According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 percent is deemed legal evidence that a driver is impaired, and a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher is considered intoxication.
Drivers who get caught operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher may be charged with a DUI and face legal punishment. To avoid being charged with a DUI, you might be inclined to avoid driving and sleep off the alcohol in your vehicle instead. However, this decision may also get you into trouble.
To get charged with a DUI, you only have to appear as though you intend to drive. By sleeping in the driver’s seat with your car keys nearby or in the ignition, you might appear as if you intended or were planning to drive but fell asleep at the wheel. If you need to sleep in your vehicle while intoxicated, it is best if you sleep away from the driver’s seat, such as in the backseat. You should also keep your keys out of reach.
You Can Get Charged with a DUI for Being Intoxicated While Standing Outside of the Vehicle
If you are standing outside a vehicle while intoxicated, you may appear as though you are about to get in and drive. You could be given a DUI even if you have no intention of driving. This is especially true if you have the car keys in your hands.
If a police officer drives by and sees you near your car, clearly intoxicated, they may argue they had reasonable grounds to arrest you for DUI, according to the New York Vehicle & Traffic Law (VAT) § 1194. With keys in your hand, you might look like you were driving while intoxicated or intended on doing so before the officer arrived.
Possession of Car Keys
When you are in possession of car keys, a police officer can assume that you may have been driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or a combination of both. Whether you were driving or not, you can be charged with DUI if found intoxicated near your vehicle. If you have car keys in your hand or evidence of alcohol or drug consumption in your vehicle, an officer may argue they had reasonable cause to believe you were driving while intoxicated even if they did not see you driving.
Witnesses Saw You Driving
Many road users may be able to recall an incident where they saw someone swerving on the road while driving. Some people choose to report this behavior, claiming the driver appears to be driving under the influence. They may report the license plate number to do so, and the police may show up at the vehicle owner’s home and arrest the driver based on the witness statement.
If you were charged with a DUI because of a witness statement, you might have to defend your case. You may be able to defend yourself by:
- Proving you were not the person driving
- Proving you were not intoxicated while driving
- Providing a witness who knows you were not driving intoxicated
How to Avoid Getting Charged with DUI
You can avoid getting charged with a DUI by not driving under the influence. However, you now know you can still get charged with DUI without driving. In that case, how can you avoid being charged with a DUI if you are not planning on driving?
Have Someone Else Walk to Your Vehicle
Suppose you forgot something in your car or need to go to your car for any reason while intoxicated, have a sober friend walk with you and carry the keys. You can also ask if they can grab something from your car for you.
Unlock Your Car from a Distance
If you are alone, you can choose to unlock your car from a distance and leave your keys behind as you walk to your vehicle. If a police officer saw you walking to the car while intoxicated, you can show you do not even have the car keys on you.
Sleep in the Backseat
As previously stated, you should sleep in the backseat of a vehicle if you must sleep in a vehicle. If the backseat is not an option, sleep in the passenger seat. Make sure the keys are not in the ignition. Place them in the glovebox or out of reach. Also, make sure you do not have any open containers in your vehicle that would indicate you were driving and drinking.
Let Morelli Law Firm Defend You
Getting charged with a DUI can be extremely frustrating, especially if you had no intention of driving under the influence. You can fight these charges, and a lawyer can help.
Morelli Law Firm can help you by proving you had no intention of driving. We can find evidence to support you against these charges. Call (212) 751-9800 today to schedule your free consultation. Let us walk you through what options are available to you.