Jul 19, 2023

Can I get charged with a DUI for sitting in my car?

Drunk Driving

Numerous states have interpreted their DUI laws broadly. This means in many states you run the risk of catching a drunk driving charge just by sitting in the driver’s seat of a car.

The law in Missouri does not require such a harsh result. Missouri only allows for a driving while intoxicated charge if a person “operates a vehicle while in an intoxicated condition.” However, there are still situations where you may be arrested for suspicion of drunk driving, even when you’re in a parked car.

Watch those keys

The courts have held that if the keys are in the ignition and a vehicle is running, you are effectively operating the vehicle under Missouri’s drunk driving laws.

Perhaps you drove a block or two and thought better of continuing on your journey. You decided to pull off to the side of the road and “sleep it off.” However, you left the engine running. If the police come upon such a scene, they may very well arrest you for suspicion of DUI.

It’s possible you could be charged without ever putting your car into drive. For example, you may be sitting in your car waiting for it to warm up. Maybe you turned the car on just to listen to a favorite song. Regardless of the reason, if the police see you sitting in the car and the car is running, it’s enough for them to make an arrest.

It’s best to find another way home

You might think it’s the responsible thing to do to sleep in your car until you sober up. While it’s good that you’re not on the road, you still run the risk of getting into trouble with the law. Finding another way to get home is always in your best interest.

Remember that you have rights. If you find yourself charged with a DUI in any type of circumstance, you should always discuss your situation with a criminal defense attorney. Together, you can help build a strong defense against drunk driving charges.