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Sleeping it Off in the Car? Avoid Getting a DUI When Not Driving

DUI when not driving in Oregon

In the last several months, we have looked at different modes of transportation that you could get a DUI while operating. From boats to bikes, you don’t have to be operating a standard motor vehicle to be charged with a DUI in Oregon. This month, we look at how you can get a DUI when you’re not driving. Despite the charge of “driving under the influence,” it’s possible for you to be arrested for a variety of reasons, including “sleeping it off” in the driver’s seat.

In many states, including Oregon, DUI laws prohibit drivers from “operating” or being in “actual physical control” of a car while under the influence. This means if you have your keys in the ignition, if you’re sleeping in the driver’s seat, you could potentially be charged with a DUI in Oregon.

Avoid a DUI While in a Parked Car

No one wants to get a DUI and many people make the decision to sleep it off in the car rather than putting themselves and the public in danger by driving drunk. Even though you have tried to do the right thing, it’s still possible to get a DUI. In order to avoid a DUI, it’s important to make it clear that you were actually sleeping and not taking a break from driving.

  • Sleep in the back seat or at least the passenger seat
  • Don’t have your keys on your person
  • Place your keys in the trunk, this puts you in a better position to convince the police officer you had no intention of driving
  • Keep the ignition off

Juries typically look at the “totality of the circumstances” when determining whether a motorist was operating or in actual physical control of the vehicle. This includes the location of the driver, location of the keys, location of the vehicle, whether the engine was running and whether the driver was awake or asleep. The jury must decide whether the motorist was close enough to set the car in motion, making it a danger to the public.

The location of the vehicle plays a large role, as it can be an indication of whether the person was driving before the police arrived. This factors into the risk the person posed to the public at the time of the incident. For example, if parked in the middle of a roadway or a sidewalk downtown, a jury likely won’t be sympathetic to the motorist.

Motorists found in the driver’s seat have a higher risk of conviction than those in the passenger or backseat of the vehicle. The closer you are to the ignition, the more likely a jury will be to convict. A driver asleep in the backseat with their keys in the trunk clearly shows the jury there was no intention of driving drunk.

Find a Bend DUI Lawyer

Obviously, the best option after you’ve been drinking is not to get behind the wheel of a car in the first place. If you don’t have any other options than to sleep it off in your vehicle, be sure to make it clear that you have no intention of driving. Put your keys in the trunk, sleep in the backseat and make sure you aren’t parked somewhere that will draw suspicion. If possible, call a cab, a Lyft driver or a friend to pick you up. Don’t let your good intentions still result in DUI charges.

If you have been charged with a DUI, contact Nelson Law. Nelson Law is owned by Bend DUI lawyer Ricky R. Nelson, who has extensive experience defending DUI charges in Central Oregon.

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