Imagine this: you’ve had a few drinks and the bar is about to close.
Rather than leave your car, you decide to take a brief snooze in order
to be in a better condition to drive as soon as you wake up. Since it’s
relatively warm at night, you turn on your engine to use the air conditioner
in your car. Suddenly, you hear a knock on your windshield and notice
a police officer standing outside of the driver’s side door.
Unfortunately, you can be arrested for driving under the influence (DWI) in Texas while asleep in a motor vehicle. It is critical to understand
that there are two different ways you can get a DWI arrest: (1) by operating
a vehicle on a public road or an area open to the public or (2) if you
have “physical control” of the motor vehicle. Falling asleep
in your car is addressed by the latter component.
According to the court, physical control is defined as being physically
in a vehicle and having the ability to operate it. Factors of physical
control include the driver’s position in the vehicle, the location
of the car keys, whether the engine is running, and the driver’s
ability to move or operate the car.
So, for example, if you are asleep on the driver’s seat, the keys
are in the ignition, and the engine is running, you can be convicted of
DWI while being in actual physical control of a vehicle—despite
Jerry Loftin & Associates, our
Fort Worth criminal defense attorney recommends that you avoid this type of situation by calling a designated
driver, requesting a ride from Lyft or Uber, or taking public transportation.
But if you do happen to experience such a scenario, there are certain
steps you can take to make it more difficult for the prosecution to convict
you of DWI.
The following are the precautionary steps you can take:
- Sleep in the backseat
- Keep your keys away from the ignition
- Store your keys in the trunk or outside the vehicle
While you may avoid a DUI charge, you may still be arrested for public
intoxication. This type of crime is considered a Class C misdemeanor,
punishable by a maximum fine of $500.
For more information about Texas DWI,
contact our Fort Worth DUI attorney at Jerry Loftin & Associates today.