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Can the police arrest you for sleeping it off in your vehicle?

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2023 | Alcohol consumption

You would have a difficult time locating even a single driver who is unaware of the laws about drinking and driving in Virginia. Alcohol education is a mandatory part of driver’s education, and public awareness campaigns constantly draw attention to the dangers of drinking and then getting behind the wheel.

Most people are well aware of the legal limit concerning blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and the risk of an officer pulling them over if they display signs of impairment at the wheel. Unfortunately, some people find themselves in a situation wherein they have already had too much to drink and now need to make the best choice given their circumstances.

Someone leaving a bar as it closes down for the night or fresh out of a wild party may recognize when they reach their vehicle that they are not sober enough to drive. If you are far from home and too drunk to start your vehicle, you might think it would be a safer and smarter choice to sleep in your locked vehicle until you sober up enough to drive. Unfortunately, people can still get arrested for a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in that exact situation.

You don’t have to drive to face a DUI charge

Virginia is notorious for having particularly strict impaired driving laws. Technically, someone does not need to have the engine running on a vehicle for the state to charge them with impaired driving. They only need to be over the legal limit for their BAC and in control of a vehicle.

Having the keys and being inside the vehicle while under the influence could lead to someone’s arrest even though they never intended to drive while drunk. Police officers who believe someone may have driven before parking or intended to drive might still arrest someone who doesn’t even have the engine in their vehicle running.

Unusual situations can influence defense options

Although the police can arrest someone for drunk driving just for being in a vehicle, the defendant may have several means of fighting back against their pending charges.

Making sense of state law and learning about the penalties for Virginia DUI offenses can help those accused of impaired driving decide what to do next. In the event that their circumstances are unconventional, seeking legal guidance can bring much-needed clarity to the situation.

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