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Denver Criminal Defense Attorney Explains Parked DUIs

March 21, 2018

As a responsible driver, you understand that getting behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol is more than just a safety hazard—it’s illegal. However, after a night on the town, asking a friend for a ride home or finding calling a cab may be impractical or far too expensive to justify. This leaves many people with one option and one alone: sleep it off in their car. Though most people associate DUI charges with reckless driving under the influence, you don’t have to be behind the wheel to be charged with a DUI in Colorado. The criminal defense lawyer Denver residents rely on explains how.

What Earns You a DUI

In the state of Colorado, you don’t need to be driving in order to earn a DUI. In fact, simply sleeping in your car after a night of heavy drinking can be enough to earn you a DUI charge. The Colorado Revised Statutes specify that individuals must be in control of the vehicle in order to be charged with a DUI. The definition of “in control” is a bit confusing. Under the state’s current regulations, anyone found sleeping it off in their vehicle could potentially be found guilty of a DUI, even if the car is still parked in the parking lot outside the bar.

What Cops Look For

Keep in mind that most cops are not out to bust sleeping drivers wanting to avoid driving under the influence. However, there are a few things they look for when deciding if an arrest is required. When investigating the scene, officers will consider
  • Where the car was parked
  • Whether the driver is behind the wheel or in the back seat
  • If the keys are in the ignition
  • If the engine is running
  • The ease with which the car could be moved
These are not hard and fast rules, by any means, but merely serve as a guideline for law enforcement. If you’re asleep behind the wheel with the keys in the ignition, the police have no way of knowing whether or not you moved the car while inebriated. However, if you’re asleep in the backseat with the keys in your pocket, you’ll have a better chance of proving that you were not in control of the vehicle at the time.

What Happens If You’re Caught?

If you’re caught sleeping it off, the most important thing you can do is stay calm. The police may administer a roadside sobriety test, breathalyzer, or other sobriety check to determine whether or not you’re under the influence. If they take you into custody, call your attorney immediately. The sooner they learn of your predicament, the sooner they can start mounting your defense. Remember, you were doing the right thing by staying off the roads and a DUI conviction earned because you were sleeping in your car is one that should always be fought.

If you’re facing charges for a DUI simply because you decided to sleep in your car rather than chance a drive home, contact the Law Office of John L. Buckley, P.C. today. Our experienced team will work to prove that you’re a responsible driver and not just another statistic.