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Can I Get a DUI in West Virginia for Sleeping in My Car?

The bar is closing and you’re too drunk to drive home. While you can call an Uber to give you a ride, you don’t want to leave your car in the parking lot or street overnight.

In this situation, many people believe “sleeping it off” in the car is a valid option. After a few hours or so, they are well enough to safely drive home without fear of getting a DUI.

Unfortunately, if law enforcement catches someone in the middle of the snooze, it is possible the sleeping individual can be charged with drunk driving—even if he wasn’t seen actually driving the vehicle.

When it comes to West Virginia DUI law, driving is defined as operating or being in “physical control” of a vehicle. In other words, you can still be charged with a DUI for merely having the ability to drive a vehicle.

Common ways law enforcement and prosecutors may prove that a driver had physical control of the car:

  • The driver is asleep at the wheel – If a person falls asleep in the driver’s seat, it is reasonable for a police officer to assume you got behind the wheel with the intention to drive.
  • The keys are in the ignition – Even if a person doesn’t start a vehicle, law enforcement may claim he/she attempted to do so but was too inebriated or decided to do something else.
  • The engine is running – Whether it’s to use the air condition or heating system or listen to the radio, many people leave the engine running while sleeping in their vehicle. However, the police can claim that a person tried to drive but decided against it.

At The Wagner Law Firm, Attorney Harley Wagner advises everyone to avoid being in this situation and find another way home without taking a snooze in the car. However, if you want to make it difficult for the court to prove you had physical control of the vehicle, ensure you are legally parked without driving, sleep in the back seat, lock your car keys in the glove compartment or center console.

If you have been charged with a DUI in West Virginia for sleeping in a parked car, contact The Wagner Law Firm today at (304) 461-6000 and schedule a free case review.

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