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Can someone get a DUI even when they’re not driving their vehicle?

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2023 | DUI |

There are many scenarios in which someone could get arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) allegations in Georgia. The right defense strategy for someone’s DUI charge will depend on the details of their arrest. People might fail breath tests after causing a crash. They could appear intoxicated during a targeted traffic stop or when they encounter a sobriety checkpoint.

Typically, people assume that they need to be on the road with the vehicle in motion for police officers to arrest them for a DUI offense. As a result, someone who knows that they have had too much to drink might choose to wait a while before driving so that they have a chance to sober up again. Some people might specifically decide to sleep in their vehicle after leaving a bar or party. Yet, this isn’t always the wisest course of action.

Sleeping it off can be a dangerous choice

There are multiple reasons why choosing to rest in a vehicle to sober up after drinking may not be the smartest decision. Someone parked near a bar or party could end up struck by someone else who is under the influence and attempts to drive home. They could also seem like a target for opportunistic criminals.

Additionally, if a police officer spots them snoozing, they could end up arrested for a DUI. Under Georgia state law, someone does not need to have a vehicle started to run the risk of a DUI charge. The state only needs to establish that they were in actual physical control of the vehicle. Being in the vehicle with the keys present while drunk could be sufficient reason for the state to prosecute someone because they have physical control over the vehicle.

Officers have no way of knowing whether someone drove for a bit before stopping or whether they intended to drive while in that intoxicated state after resting briefly. Police officers can and sometimes do arrest people who choose to sleep in their vehicles. Those who are aware of this risk could make safer choices, such as leaving their keys with the friend who hosted the party or asking to sleep on a couch to sober up before driving home the next morning.