New Jersey law permits DWI charges for sleeping in a car

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2021 | DUI/DWI Defense |

An officer may charge an individual with driving while intoxicated if he or she comes across someone sleeping in a parked vehicle. As reported by New Jersey 101.5 Radio’s website, the law permits an officer to issue a DWI if it appears the sleeping individual had the “intent to operate” a car while impaired.

Actions that may show an intention of “operating” a parked vehicle include having a key in the ignition or leaving the engine running. The immediate evidence may not tell the entire story, but the visible details may fall within the guidelines of a suspected DWI.

Defenses available to fight a charge

A strong defense to a “parked-car” DWI may require proving the individual had no intention of starting the vehicle or driving away. Countering a prosecutor’s evidence may include proof that a field sobriety test came back with inaccurate results.

Portable devices used to determine a motorist’s blood alcohol content level may provide inaccurate readings. A medical condition that affects an individual’s blood sugar or glucose level may result in a false blood alcohol content reading. According to WebMD, legally prescribed medications may raise an individual’s BAC.

Penalties for a DWI conviction

A conviction for DWI generally results in a license suspension and often requires motorists to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. Before turning on the engine, an individual breathes into the IID for a BAC reading. The engine, however, will not turn on if the BAC is 0.05% or more.

To prevent facing charges, motorists should consider alternatives to sleeping in their vehicles if the need for rest arises. To not raise the suspicions of local law enforcement, getting some sleep at the nearest motel or calling for a ride may serve as a more realistic approach.


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