Can You Be Arrested for DUI if You’re Sleeping in Your Car?

One of the most commonly asked questions online is whether you can be arrested for DUI if you’re sleeping in your car. The way our Orangeburg DUI attorneys see things, common sense cuts both ways in this situation.

If you’re asleep, you can’t possibly be driving a vehicle. At the same time, if you are sleeping off a night out, you must’ve been under the influence when you parked your car.

In Most States, You Can Be Arrested for DUI Even if You Aren’t Driving

In most states, you can be arrested and charged with DUI, even if you’re asleep in your vehicle. The same is true if you’re listening to music or just hanging out in your car with friends.

If the police believe that you have control of the vehicle, they will also assume that you’re planning on driving your vehicle. The notion that you don’t plan on driving until you’re completely sober does not cross their mind.

South Carolina DUI Law is Different from Other States

The good news is that South Carolina is different from other states. In South Carolina, to be arrested for DUI, you must physically be operating a motor vehicle at the time. This means that you can’t be arrested if the cops happen to come upon you “sleeping it off” in your car or SUV.

This isn’t because the legislature in South Carolina doesn’t care about the public safety. It just so happens that the laws in South Carolina are written in such a way that police officers have to prove you were, in fact, driving at the time of your arrest.

Your Orangeburg DUI Attorney Can Explain How the DUI Laws in South Carolina Work

In a way, the laws in South Carolina are a lot simpler than they are in other states. When you first meet with your Orangeburg DUI attorney, they can explain the laws in detail. However, what you need to understand is the State must prove each element of DUI for you to be arrested, charged, and convicted of the crime.

The elements of a DUI in South Carolina are as follows:

  • You must be driving a motor vehicle at the time of your arrest
  • You must be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and
  • You must be materially impaired to the point where you cannot safely operate a motor vehicle

You’ll notice that the very first element of DUI is that a person be driving the vehicle at the time of your arrest.

You Can’t Be Arrested if You’re Sleeping in Your Car

There are a few things your Orangeburg criminal lawyer can tell you about the DUI laws in South Carolina. As explained above, you must be driving your vehicle for the cops to arrest you. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be charged with some other offense.

For example, if the police stop you and see an open container of alcohol, they can still charge you with that crime. The same is true if they see drug paraphernalia. However, neither of these things carry the same consequences as a conviction for DUI does.

sleeping in the car is not a legal reason for a DUI charge

What Are the Penalties for DUI in South Carolina?

According to South Carolina Code §56-5-2930, a first offense DUI will carry fines of up to $400. In addition, your driver’s license will be suspended for six months. This is assuming that your blood alcohol concentration was not above 0.15.

You will also have to serve anywhere from 48 hours to thirty days in jail. The length of this sentence will depend on the facts surrounding your case.

Finally, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device on your car and attend drug and alcohol classes. Your Orangeburg DUI attorney will do their best to keep the penalties to a minimum.

The Police Can’t Arrest You for DUI If You’re in Your Car Listening to Music

In many states, the police will drive through parking lots or places they know young people go to hang out and party. If they see you in your car listening to music, either by yourself or with friends, they may perform a traffic stop.

In most other states, if you have a BAC of .08 or higher, you can be arrested and charged with DUI. In South Carolina, if all you’re doing is listening to music, you can’t be charged with DUI.

It’s interesting to note that in order to listen to music, your key will need to be in the ignition. The courts in South Carolina have apparently decided that having the keys in the ignition is not sufficient to warrant a DUI arrest.

Your Orangeburg Criminal Lawyer Can Fight the Charges if You Are Arrested for DUI

It’s important to remember that the State doesn’t always drop the charges right away. Your Orangeburg DUI attorney may have to negotiate back and forth to make this happen.

At the end of the day, you cannot legally be convicted of DUI if you weren’t driving at the time of your arrest. Your Orangeburg criminal lawyer will submit the necessary evidence to prove that this wasn’t the case.

Your Orangeburg DUI Attorney Will Demand That the Charges Be Dropped

If you were arrested despite the fact that you weren’t driving, your Orangeburg DUI attorney will act quickly. They will file a motion asking that the charges be dismissed. Hopefully, the prosecutor will agree and drop the charges.

If, however, they pursue the case anyway, your Orangeburg criminal lawyer will do their best to convince the judge to dismiss the case. While there’s always the chance of having the charges reduced to reckless driving, that doesn’t seem fair if you weren’t driving at the time of the traffic stop.

It’s Still Best to Consult an Experienced Orangeburg Criminal Lawyer

If you’ve been charged with DUI, you need to meet with an experienced Orangeburg DUI attorney. Even though the law appears to be on your side, you never know what can happen once you’re in front of a judge.

We suggest that you speak with an Orangeburg criminal lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest. You’ll have to attend your first hearing sooner than you may think. This isn’t something you’ll want to handle on your own.