Can I Get a Drunk Driving Charge for Sleeping in a Parked Car?


In New Jersey, a person can acquire a driving under the influence (DUI) charge if the evidence shows that they were or they intended to operate a vehicle. The vehicle does not necessarily need to be moving in order for the driver to be found guilty of such a charge.

While sleeping in one’s car is not an offense by itself, if the driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of over 0.08 percent and they are over the age of 21 years old and not operating a commercial vehicle, then the driver could be charged with DUI.

Driving While Intoxicated is Determined on a Case-by-Case Basis

Whether or not a driver was considered to be operating a vehicle will be determined in a case-by-case basis. Therefore, if the intoxicated driver is discovery by the police to be sleeping on the side of the highway, there is a good evidence that the person was intoxicated when they operated the vehicle to get to that point.

On the other hand, if the person was found sleeping in the parking lot of a bar, then the driver could make a reasonable argument that they never operated the vehicle while under the influence. Whether the car was running, the keys were in the ignition, and whether the driver was in fact in the driver’s seat will all be taken into consideration.

What are the Penalties of a DUI Charge?

If a person’s BAC level is found to be over the legal limit in New Jersey, the first sentence can include:

  • A jail sentence of up to 30 days.
  • A suspension of the driver’s license for three months.
  • A fine of at least $250 and up to $400.
  • Community service.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for six months to a year on the driver’s car.

Drivers who have been found guilty of multiple DUI charges will face steeper penalties with each offense.

A second DUI offense can include:

  • A jail sentence of up to 90 days.
  • A suspension of the driver’s license for up to two years.
  • A fine of $500 to $1,000.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for one to three years.
  • Community service.

A third offense can carry a sentence of jail time up to six months, a fine of $1,000, and suspension of the driver’s license for up to 10 years. This is in addition to potential installation of the ignition interlock device and community service. Since the stakes become higher with each offense, it is crucial to have the right legal representation.

If you have received a DUI charge because you were discovered sleeping in your car, a South Jersey DUI lawyer at Agre & St. John can help in your defense. We will look at all the circumstances surrounding the DUI charge and offer the best defense possible. We are located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, and we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Camden County, Burlington County, Gloucester County, and Salem County. Contact us online or call us at 856-454-8674 for an initial consultation.

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