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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Default Can A Person Get Arrested For Sleeping Drunk In Their Vehicle

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: CA California

    This is an interesting question. Can a person get arrested and charged for sleeping in their car while drunk?

    Lets say your coming back from a party and find yourself too intoxicated to drive. You then place your keys in the glovebox and doze off in the back of your car. The car is locked, not on and parked legally off the roadway in a parking lot. Your intent is to sleep it off in the back until you are completely sober.

    Can a police officer arrest that person for DUI? Can the person be convicted of DUI from this scenario?

    This is an academic question and not an actual occurence. I have read a few threads on other internet forums and talked with a few people on this. Just curious to see what views are on this topic in this forum. Thanks

  2. #2

    Default Re: Can A Person Get Arrested For Sleeping Drunk In Their Vehicle? California

    I'll be interested to see Carl's answer on this regarding California. Here in Florida, all the officer needs to make an arrest for DUI is that you are in the vehicle, have access to the keys (they don't need to be in your hand, on your person, or in the ignition - you only need to have them somewhere in the interior of the vehicle), and probable cause based on the usual factors that you are impaired.

    Car being locked should be irrelevent.

    Keys in glovebox wouldn't be relevent in FL, we'll see for CA

    In the backseat wouldn't be relevent in FL, we'll see for CA

    Parked in a lot should be irrelevent, though other issues might be raised if you are on private property, like a store or bar parking lot.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    9,096

    Default Re: Can A Person Get Arrested For Sleeping Drunk In Their Vehicle? California

    Well, considering the "unprofessional" conduct you credit the CHP with, why would you even take the risk.

    Public drunkeness is still a crime. There is also the thought that an officer could and should break a window if they believe the occupant is in danger.

    There have been real life incidents on this board where the person woke up as the glass flew in.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    7

    Default Re: Can A Person Get Arrested For Sleeping Drunk In Their Vehicle

    The unlawful conduct post is a seperate post that I take seriously, however, this is a seperate question and an educational thread for us all. Lets not taint this post with other threads.

    Lets say the keys are locked in the trunk in the spare tire in a closed container just to throw in some jazz to this scenario.

  5. #5
    panther10758 Guest

    Default Re: Can A Person Get Arrested For Sleeping Drunk In Their Vehicle

    Lets just say that if you leave anywhere in your car without a Designated Driver you just don't drink!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
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    California
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    Default Re: Can A Person Get Arrested For Sleeping Drunk In Their Vehicle

    If your keys were locked in the trunk of your car, you might get arrested but I don't think you'd be prosecuted. (Just my guess).

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Can A Person Get Arrested For Sleeping Drunk In Their Vehicle

    Quote Quoting johnmax65
    View Post
    This is an interesting question. Can a person get arrested and charged for sleeping in their car while drunk?
    Under certain circumstances. yes.

    Lets say your coming back from a party and find yourself too intoxicated to drive. You then place your keys in the glovebox and doze off in the back of your car. The car is locked, not on and parked legally off the roadway in a parking lot. Your intent is to sleep it off in the back until you are completely sober.
    Unless there is a witness to your driving, or you were involved in an accident, then you are not likely to be charged with DUI in CA.

    Can a police officer arrest that person for DUI? Can the person be convicted of DUI from this scenario?
    Two very different questions. Can the officer make an arrest? Under the right circumstances, he might. Can the person be convicted? Under the right circumstances, yes. Chances are the arrest would be made for public intoxication (if any arrest was made), and the prosecution would be for the same.


    - Carl
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    9,096

    Default Re: Can A Person Get Arrested For Sleeping Drunk In Their Vehicle

    Quote Quoting johnmax65
    View Post
    The unlawful conduct post is a seperate post that I take seriously, however, this is a seperate question and an educational thread for us all. Lets not taint this post with other threads.
    you may see it as a "seperate" question, but the posters need to understand your mindset and, therefore, your agenda in asking the question.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    7

    Default Re: Can A Person Get Arrested For Sleeping Drunk In Their Vehicle

    Like I said, this is an educational thread.

    Folks sometimes drink at a party, on the weekends, afterwork, etc. There are times when they make the mistake of drinking to the point where they are over the legal limit. So they want to do the right thing by not driving and, instead, sleep it off in the car with only good intentions. However, in some areas they still may be breaking the law by sleeping it off and might get sentenced to a DUI anyway. This is what people have to know.

    I found a few articles from the internet.

    http://www.duiblog.com/2005/04/16/pa...the-influence/

    http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/19/1940.asp

    http://www.or-drunkdrivinglawyer.com/stateinfo/

    The central point here I believe revolves around the key. The chances of an actual conviction are less if the key is not inside the vehicle with the driver. Maybe one has better chances by stashing the key under the bumper or other place outside of the vehicle while sleeping it off.

    The next question in regards to this topic is what if you dont open the car door when the police officer knocks and just act like your sleeping. Does the officer have a right to break into the vehicle? I dont see reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed by a sleeping man in a vehicle.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
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    Default Re: Can A Person Get Arrested For Sleeping Drunk In Their Vehicle

    Quote Quoting johnmax65
    View Post
    However, in some areas they still may be breaking the law by sleeping it off and might get sentenced to a DUI anyway. This is what people have to know.
    In CA actual driving has to be observed (with few exceptions). Crawling into the back seat of a vehicle parked at a friend's house should NOT result in a DUI arrest or conviction.

    The next question in regards to this topic is what if you dont open the car door when the police officer knocks and just act like your sleeping. Does the officer have a right to break into the vehicle? I dont see reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed by a sleeping man in a vehicle.
    If you cannot be roused, chances are the officer will be able to cite a community caretaking exception and can make entry to determine if the person is okay. We DO occasionally come across people in distress on the road ... sometimes they have succumbed to carbon monoxide, other times to medication, and even heart attacks. So, yes, if the person does not respond, the police will almost certainly force entry.

    (Yes, we do deal with more than just crimes.)

    - Carl
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

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