Can sleeping in your car lead to a DUI arrest?

On Behalf of | Feb 3, 2022 | DUI |

Even though the holiday season has ended, some Californians continue to face the consequences of drinking and driving. In fact, according to reporting from NBC News, the California Highway Patrol arrested more than 300 suspected drunk drivers just on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

These drivers probably would have been wise to sleep off the alcohol they consumed instead of trying to drive home. For a variety of reasons, though, it is smart not to sleep in one’s car. After all, depending on the circumstances, it is possible to face DUI charges simply by sleeping in your vehicle.

Your blood alcohol concentration

California’s legal limit for intoxication is 0.08%. If you have a blood alcohol concentration above this limit, you are vulnerable to a DUI arrest any time you climb behind the wheel of your vehicle. For officers to have probable cause to arrest you, though, they need a bit more.

Direct versus circumstantial evidence

In many states, sleeping in a vehicle with a BAC over the legal limit is enough to support a DUI arrest. In the Golden State, however, officers must have evidence of volitional movement. While this evidence can be direct, such as an officer seeing you drive, it may also be circumstantial.

The following types of circumstantial evidence may be sufficient to land you in handcuffs:

  • Sitting in the driver’s seat with the engine running
  • Having a warm engine or car tires
  • Leaving tire tracks on the road
  • Parking your vehicle on the shoulder of a highway
  • Putting your keys in the ignition

Ultimately, if an officer arrests you for a DUI offense based solely on circumstantial evidence,  you may have some options for mounting a successful defense.