Can I Get A DUI In New Jersey Even If My Keys Aren’t In The Ignition?

car keys out of ignition

New Jersey has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country. To prevent unfortunate drunk driving accidents from occurring, police offers will sometimes take precautionary measures to ensure intoxicated people don’t attempt to operate a vehicle. Subsequently, people have gotten a DUI charge even if they weren’t actively driving when the police officer found them intoxicated. To learn more about how you could be at risk of a criminal charge even if your keys aren’t in the ignition while intoxicated in your vehicle, read this blog or reach out to a Bergen County, New Jersey DUI Lawyer today.


Yes, it is possible to be charged with a DUI even if you don’t have your keys in the ignition while you’re under the influence of alcohol. This is because New Jersey law defines a DUI as “operating” a vehicle when your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. Operating does not mean the same as driving, and an officer can also charge you with a DUI if they have reason to suspect you intended to drive while intoxicated.

For example, let’s say you drove yourself to a bar, but you mistakenly drank too much and now you can’t drive home. Instead of spending money on an Uber or cab to get home, you decide to wait inside your vehicle so that you can drive yourself home after you have sobered up. Then, a police officer finds you intoxicated in the front seat of your car with the keys on the seat next to you. Though the engine isn’t running, the police officer might believe you were intending on driving home while you were still drunk. In this situation, you could be arrested for a DUI.


The good news is that if your engine was not running when the police officer found you in your car, you have a higher chance of being able to reduce or even dismiss the charges. After being arrested, you should contact a DUI attorney as soon as you can. A talented lawyer can help you build a case to prove you had no intention of driving while intoxicated. You are most likely to avoid charges if your keys weren’t in the ignition, you weren’t in the driver’s seat, and you were asleep at the time.

If you’re currently facing a DUI charge, you might be looking for an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has your best interests in mind. Thankfully, the Law Office of E. Gregory Cannarozzi is here to fight for you! Contact our effective team today for an initial consultation.

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