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Can I Get a DWI If I Was Sleeping in My Car?


Many people believe that it’s perfectly OK to sleep off intoxication in their cars, but doing so could end up being more trouble than most anticipate.

It’s understandable why so many would think that sleeping in their cars while drunk should be OK – you’re not actually driving, your car may not even be on, and you may not even be in the driver’s seat. Yet, choosing to sleep in your car while you’re drunk can be one of the worst mistakes you’ll make when it leads to a DWI arrest and charges.

Why Sleeping in Your Car While Drunk Is a Bad Idea

Texas law states that someone has committed DWI if they are “intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.” The keyword here is “operating,” because that word can – and has – been interpreted in a number of ways that led to DWI convictions under circumstances a lot of people might find ridiculous. If you think getting a DWI for sleeping in your car is silly, you might be one of those people.

In a nutshell, the courts are likely to interpret the word “operating” as referring to someone’s ability to control their vehicle. If you are sleeping with your keys in the ignition and the heater on, it can be argued that you were operating your vehicle. If you were sleeping with your keys in your pocket, it can be argued that you had the ability to operate your vehicle because the keys were still in your possession.

How Do I Defend against a DWI for Sleeping in My Car?

When a single word such as “operating” is the lynchpin between getting a DWI or not, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and call for a ride or ask your host to stay over.

We don’t suggest you ever sleep off intoxication in your car, but if you have already been arrested and charged with DWI, the following information may be beneficial to know.

That said, it’s difficult to defend against a DWI charge when you were caught sleeping in your car – but it’s not impossible.

Some factors that may help you demonstrate that you didn’t intend to drive include the following:

  • You were found sleeping in the back seat.
  • Your engine and lights were off.
  • Your keys were kept away from your possession, such as in the trunk or with a friend.
  • Your car was parked in a legal space.

If the factors above were true to your situation, you may be able to successfully defend against your DWI charges, but you should contact an experienced attorney for professional legal counsel.

Contact Us for Legal Assistance

If you are in need of professional legal assistance to help you defend against DWI charges, consider reaching out to our team at Derek A. Adame, Attorney at Law for help. Attorney Derek Adame has more than 15 years of experience helping clients defend against criminal charges, including DWI.

We offer a free consultation that gives potential clients an opportunity to learn more about us and how our legal services can help them. If you’re interested in taking advantage of this opportunity, get in touch with us as soon as possible.

Contact Derek A. Adame, Attorney at Law online now or call (940) 441-4239.

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