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Is it OK for me to sleep in my car if I’m too drunk to drive?

On Behalf of | Sep 16, 2021 | Drunk Driving

If you go out for drinks with friends or spend a nice evening at a bar, it’s possible that you might find that you had too much to drink. If that’s the case, you do have options open to you, such as getting a ride home with someone who is sober or calling a taxi. One other option that you might be considering is sleeping inside your vehicle.

It’s not the best idea to do this in California, because you do risk and arrest and DUI if you are impaired when caught. However, there are some places where it’s legal to park and rest.

California’s laws regarding sleeping in your vehicle

If you plan to sleep inside your vehicle, you should know that there are safe ways to do so and ways that might get you in trouble with the law. To start with, if you sleep in the parking lot of the bar or restaurant where you had too much to drink, you may be able to defend yourself to explain that you didn’t drive at all after drinking. Instead, you just went to sleep in your vehicle. If you move that vehicle even a few inches, though, you could face a DUI. You will also need permission from the property owner to park overnight in some cases.

You’ll be better able to defend yourself if you aren’t in the driver’s seat and if the keys aren’t in the ignition. However, keep in mind that California law does ask that you park in specifically designated rest areas if you want to sleep in your vehicle. Generally, you cannot park next to the road and sleep in your vehicle, because it is a safety risk. In some cities, like Los Angeles, sleeping in cars is prohibited.

What should you do if you’re accused of a DUI while sleeping in your vehicle?

It’s a good idea to start building a defense right away because you could face a DUI for sleeping in your vehicle. This is because there was a potential that you could get into the driver’s seat and turn the key to the ignition while still intoxicated, which is what the police want to avoid.

If you run into trouble with the law, look into your legal options. Each city in California, as well as the state laws, may vary, and you will want to build the right defense.