Most New Jerseyeans are aware of the risks and consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol. Some people might choose to sleep in their car after a night out to avoid driving home while intoxicated. While this might seem like a good idea to some, this is actually illegal in some states. Read on or reach out to a Bergen County, New Jersey DUI Lawyer today to find out if you’re allowed to sleep in your car while drunk in New Jersey!
CAN I GET IN TROUBLE IF I SLEEP IN MY CAR WHILE DRUNK?
Believe it or not, you could get a DUI charge if you’re caught sleeping in your car while intoxicated. Let me explain why.
According to New Jersey law, a person can be convicted of DUI if they are found operating a vehicle while their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above 0.8. “Operating” does not necessarily mean actively driving the car. So if you sleep in your car after a night of drinking and turn on the engine for heat, this could be classified as operating the vehicle since you’re in the car with the engine running. Even if you were not driving, prosecutors can prove in court that you had the intention of driving home while still drunk.
You could still face consequences if you’re caught without the engine running. If your BAC is above 0.08 and you’re sitting in your car, prosecutors may still be able to argue in court that you intended to drive while intoxicated. This is especially possible if you’re sitting in the driver’s seat or if the key is in the ignition. To avoid DUI charges, you should get a ride home from a sober driver instead of risking sleeping in your car.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR A DUI?
Once you’re charged with a DUI, there are many possible consequences that you can face. The severity of your penalties depends on your BAC at the time you were caught, your criminal history, and the circumstances of the incident. Those who have committed DUI offenses before are much more likely to be dealt harsh consequences.
First-time DUI offenders can generally expect fines up to $400, required use of an ignition interlock device (IID), and participation in an alcohol education center. Second-time offenders might face higher fines, license suspension for up to 2 years, community service, and possible incarceration. After the third offense, you’re considered a repeat offender and will likely face the most severe penalties. However, in this situation, since you weren’t actually driving and assumedly didn’t injure anyone, your attorney may help you reduce or perhaps dismiss your charges.
If you’re facing any kind of DUI charge, you’ll want an effective criminal defense lawyer at your side to fight for you. The Law Office of E. Gregory Cannarozzi is here to provide quality legal counseling. Contact us today for an initial consultation with a talented and highly experienced DUI attorney.