Drunk While Sleeping in Your Car: Can You Still Get a DUI in Illinois?

In 1910, the nation's first drunk driving law was passed in New York. Since then, drunk driving laws have become more specific and stricter, with guidelines set for intoxication levels, and harsher penalties for those have more than one DUI. 

The laws for drunk driving have always seemed clear: if you get caught driving over the legal limit, you get arrested for DUI. However, there are some states that have expanded the DUI law. There are even states, like Illinois, that can charge you with DUI if you are sleeping in your car while intoxicated. 

Knowing the law is important and can save you a big headache if you decide to sleep it off in your car. Let’s go over the DUI laws in Illinois, and whether you can get arrested for sleeping drunk in your car. 

DUI in Illinois and "Actual Physical Control"

According to Illinois state law, a driver will get charged with DUI if they are over the legal limit of intoxication and have "actual physical control" of the vehicle. Actual physical control is when the driver has the ability to start the car and cause it to move. This means that you can get charged for a DUI without ever driving the vehicle. 

 It doesn't matter if the driver was not intending to drive, if the court can prove that they had the ability to drive drunk, then they can get convicted. 

Actual physical control of the vehicle depends on a few different factors, including the position of the driver, the location of the car, and the location of the keys. These three things are the major factors that determine whether someone will get convicted or charged with a DUI in Illinois if the car is not running and the person is sleeping. 

Position of the Driver

The position or location of the driver within the vehicle is a major factor in the decision to charge a driver with a DUI. The position of the driver in the vehicle is important because it reflects the driver's ability to start the car, or their intention to drive. 

For example, if a driver is sleeping drunk in the driver's seat, it's impossible to prove that they were not driving or intended to drive. Their position in the driver's seat gives them the ability to start and drive the car, which might lead to a DUI charge. 

If the driver was sleeping in the backseat of the car or the trunk, their ability to start the car and drive is much less than if they were sleeping in the driver's seat. This doesn't mean that a driver can't get charged with DUI; there are other factors that may lead to a DUI charge. 

Location of the Car

The location of the car during a DUI stop has a large influence on whether a driver can get charged with a DUI. The location of the car gives investigating officers a clue as to whether the driver drove the car, or tried to drive the car, both of which can lead to a DUI charge. 

For example, if a driver is sleeping drunk in the back of their car, but their car is on the side of the road, it is likely that the driver drove the car to that spot while intoxicated and stopped there. The same goes for cars that are parked in places other than parking lots. If there is a sign that the driver drove while intoxicated to get to that location, they can get charged with DUI.

If a driver is asleep in their car in a parking lot or garage, it would be more difficult to prove that they drove the car while intoxicated. However, if the car is not in a parking spot, or is parked in a way that shows that the driver tried to drive the car, they can still get charged with DUI. 

Location of the Keys

This is one of the most important factors when it comes to charging a sleeping driver with a DUI. If the driver is in possession of the keys while drunk, and has the ability to exert physical control over the car, they can get charged with a DUI. The location of the keys in the car can prove the intention to drive, and the ability to drive, which makes a DUI charge more likely. 

For example, if a driver was found sleeping drunk in the backseat with the keys in their pocket, they could still be charged. With the keys in their pocket, they have the ability to start the car. The fact that they are in the car, regardless of their position, gives them the ability to start and drive the car. 

This is especially true if the keys are in the ignition. Keys in the ignition is a sign that the driver was intending to drive and makes a DUI conviction more likely. 

If the driver was found sleeping drunk in the backseat, and the keys were in the trunk or in the glove compartment, it is much more difficult to prove that they drove or were intending to drive. 

Sleeping Drunk in Your Car? Protect Yourself by Knowing the Law

If you choose to sleep in your car while intoxicated, the only way to protect yourself is to know the law and take the proper precautions to avoid a DUI.

If you have lost your license due to a DUI and would like assistance, please contact us today.