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Can I Face a DWI for Sleeping Drunk in My Car in New York?

A DWI charge can leave a permanent stain on your record, which can make it challenging to get a job or be approved for housing. This is frustrating, especially considering you never even drove your vehicle. In fact, you were sleeping in the car before you were awoken and charged with a driving while intoxicated crime. If you’re facing DWI charges for sleeping in your vehicle while drunk, you may have questions. Keep reading to learn more about these circumstances and discover how a Spring Valley DWI defense attorney can help protect your reputation.

How Can You Be Charged With a DWI When Sleeping?

It may be confusing to face a “driving” crime if you were sleeping, but it is a technicality in the law that can leave you susceptible to a criminal charge. If there is evidence that you had operated or intended to operate a vehicle in New York, you can face DWI charges.

For example, if you are asleep in the front seat while buckled in, you can receive a DWI charge. The police can claim that you had intended to drive before falling asleep.

Similarly, if you’re asleep in the backseat but the car is on, and you have the vehicle running for heat or air conditioning, the police can charge you with a DWI because you had to operate the vehicle by turning it on before climbing in the backseat.

In New York, the penalties for a first-time DWI are harsh to deter offenders from committing the crime again. The punishment for this crime can include up to one year in jail, up to a $1,000 fine, and a minimum license suspension of six months.

Is There a Way to Sleep Safely?

If you’ve had too much to drink despite driving to a bar, ensuring you do the responsible thing is essential. Under no circumstances should you drive your vehicle. If possible, you should call a friend or family member for a ride or use a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft.

When those options are not available, sleeping in your car is the next best choice. However, you will need to take the proper steps to ensure you do so in a manner that will not leave you with charges if caught.

The most important thing is to avoid moving your vehicle to a secondary location before sleeping. Though you may be hesitant to sleep in a parking lot and prefer something more secluded, moving your car allows the police to charge you with a DWI as you had to operate the vehicle to move it.

You should also avoid turning the car on. This can be challenging during the winter months when the weather becomes frigid. You may be able to prove that you were using the heat and had no intention of driving. Another tip is to sleep in the backseat, away from the ignition and vehicle controls. This helps prove you were not planning on driving.

If you were charged with a DWI for doing the responsible thing and sleeping in your car, we can help. The Law Office of Kevin T. Conway is dedicated to proving your innocence. We will do what we can to ensure you can wipe the incident from your record.

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