It is never a wise choice to get behind the wheel of your car in any scenario where you are drunk. If it is possible, always have a designated driver or another means of transportation like a taxi prepared if you plan on drinking. But what if that is not an option for you? You may think sleeping in your car to sober up is the responsible thing to do. After all, if you are not driving under the influence (DUI), then there is no way you can get arrested, right? According to New York state DUI laws, you can be charged with a DUI for simply operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, even if you were sleeping in your car. If you were involved in an incident like this recently, and are facing a DUI offense, reach out to a Rockland County DUI attorney at the Law Office of Carl Spector to assist you.
What happens if I get a DUI for sleeping in my car while drunk in New York?
In New York state, operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher will lead to a DUI charge. However, it is important to know that operating a motor vehicle does not necessarily mean just driving your car while you are drunk. If your engine is running while you are sleeping in your car, that will be considered as operating your vehicle if a police officer catches you. Especially if an officer witnesses you walking toward your car in an inebriated state.
Despite the vague definition of operating a motor vehicle, there are exceptions to the rule that can help you fight a DUI charge in court. For example, even if your car is not moving when you are arrested, it can be assumed that you intended to drive if you were in the driver’s seat while the engine was running. Because of this, if it can be proven that the engine was not running or that you were not in the driver’s seat when you were arrested, it could potentially lead to your case being thrown out. Another essential factor to keep in mind is if you had the engine running for the purpose of staying warm. It can be extremely dangerous to sleep in your car during the winter months in New York. Due to this, it can be used as a legitimate defense against a DUI charge depending on the circumstances.
What are the penalties for a DUI conviction in New York?
Unfortunately, a DUI conviction in New York will have the same consequences regardless if you were driving or sleeping in your car while intoxicated. New York has some of the harshest penalties for DUI charges in the United States of America. For first-time offenders, this could mean paying fines up to $1,000, up to one year of jail time, a minimum six-month suspension of your license, and mandatory enrollment into the Impaired Driver Program (IDP). The punishments for DUI offenses can also become far more severe for repeat offenders.