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Are Pennsylvania drivers permitted to sleep it off in their cars?

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2023 | DUI Defense

Most impaired driving cases are relatively straightforward. The police pull someone over or encounter someone at the scene of a crash and then determined that they are under the influence of alcohol or other substances. However, there are other scenarios in which people may end up arrested and facing driving under the influence (DUI) charges in Pennsylvania.

Sometimes, police officers misunderstand a situation and arrest someone for a DUI when they didn’t do anything illegal. There are situations wherein police officers think people are drunk when they are not, and there are even situations where people get accused of drunk driving when their vehicles aren’t even running. For example, anyone who is caught inside a vehicle with its keys in the ignition while they are under the influence might be at risk of arrest.

The outcome will depend on crucial details

If someone leaves a bar or a party and realizes that they should not drive home but that they have nowhere else to stay, sleeping until they are sober in their own vehicle would be a relatively safe and smart choice. However, people have been arrested historically for making that exact decision.

Thankfully, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled on such scenarios in a manner that is relatively favorable for those making responsible decisions. Someone typically cannot have the keys in the ignition, as otherwise they are in control of the motor vehicle. In fact, it is likely best for them to be in the backseat of the vehicle rather than the front while sleeping.

The Courts have ruled on a case with those specific circumstances before in favor of the defendant. The ability to prove a DUI claim requires not just evidence of intoxication but also proof that someone was in control of a motor vehicle.

Every drunk driving case requires a careful review

Those who want to fight back against impaired driving charges because there was some kind of mistake in the process will need to develop a solid defense strategy before their day in court. The best defenses often start with professional support and a very careful review of the evidence gathered by the state.

Learning more about the situations that might lead to DUI charges can help those who are facing such allegations construct a potentially winning defense in thoughtful and informed ways alongside an experienced legal professional.



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