Friday, February 4, 2011

DUI While Sleeping

I decided to research this topic after I heard something interesting on a Rochester NY radio show this AM. I was listening to 96.5 WCMF via Tune-In radio on my phone while I was getting ready for work, for something different.

The guy that called in mentioned that one time he had too much to drink at the Turning Stone Casino and went to his car to sleep it off, but first was careful to make sure that he hid his keys more than 20 feet from his vehicle. That wasn't his main story, but it struck me as interesting that he did that to be sure a cop couldn't charge him with a DUI. Apparently that is a rule in NY, or at least he thinks it is.

I have either read online or seen on the news here in FL where people have been charged with a DUI for sleeping in their vehicle and was curious why and what the rules are. Prior to seeing those instances were people were charged, I assumed if someone was sleeping in their car with the car off, it was perfectly acceptable and the right thing to do. Apparently that is not a good idea.

Here's a good description from a DUI attorney website in Orlando: "The problem is that DUI law in the State of Florida allows for a conviction for driving under the influence even though the police officer essentially woke you up from a nap. The officer doesn’t have to prove “driving”, as might be expected. “Driving” Under the Influence is not necessary the correct term. The State need only prove that a citizen has “actual physical control” of the car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs."

This article also goes a bit further: "...This means that if you are sitting in your parked car attempting to sleep off the effects of a night of drinking, even if the car is turned off and in park, you can still be arrested for DUI. Even placing the keys outside the car does not save you from being in Actual Physical Control of the vehicle and charged with DUI. Thus, the often repeated adage that you can put the keys on the roof of the car and sleep it off in the passenger’s seat will not work – you can still be arrested for DUI."

Very interesting. So at least in Florida the old hide the keys trick doesn't fly. There is a bit of subjectivity and another few blurbs mentioned that juries tend to be sympathetic in cases where the person was clearly sleeping it off with evidence they never drove anywhere, but do you really want to be on trial before a jury for any reason?

Apparently you better be sure not to piss off your neighbors either. "In a Minnesota case, a man was drinking at home, then went to listen to the high-end stereo in his new SUV parked outside. Simon said neighbors called police about the noise, and the man ended up with a drunken-driving charge and an impounded vehicle."

And if you think you're safe on a bicycle, think again: "A 'Vehicle' is broadly defined as any device by which a person may be transported upon the road. Based on these broad definitions, a person driving a bicycle would fall within the application of the Florida DUI laws. As a result, if you have been drinking and are not in a position to legally drive a motor vehicle, then you are not in a position to legally drive a bicycle either."

This also goes for motorized bar stools. As a side note, check out the YouTube links below for videos of this one guy 'Lawnmower Steve' I found of the same guy, getting arrested 3 times for drinking, twice on the same riding lawnmower and once on a motorized construction lift! :P There is even a Lawnmower Steve Facebook fan site. He likes to say "I know mah rights!" but apparently he didn't read this blog first....

Lawnmower Steve DUI Arrest 1
Lawnmower Steve DUI Arrest 2 and Taser
Lawnmower Steve DUI Arrest 3 Construction Lift

You learn something new every day eh?


Mock family said...

that's hilarious!! that dui in the car sleeping it off is STUPID!! let's have them just try to drive home instead...........

Chris said...

Yeah, I mean I get why they would want that in place, like if someone was in the car and fell asleep at a stop light or something along those lines, but if someone is doing the right thing and just sleeping in the car with no intentions of driving, give em a brake. But Lawnmower Steve is hilarious!! :p

Ginny said...

Thanks for the research. Now we know that you just can't win for doing the right thing. I'd feel bad for Lawnmower Steve is it wasn't so funny.

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