Can You Sit in Your Car While Drunk?

There are specific rules when it comes to DUIs and what constitutes as probable cause.

About Probable Cause and DUIs

When it comes to DUIs, you might think the laws are pretty cut-and-dry – it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol with a BAC of .08% or greater. In California, simply sleeping or sitting in a vehicle while under the influence is not a DUI offense as long as there is not evidence of driving or intent to drive. However, there are some grey areas that could result in sticky situations for those who like to enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage.

If you are sleeping or sitting in your car rather than driving, you might think you are doing the responsible thing, but a police officer might have reason to believe otherwise. If a police officer feels that you intended to drive your vehicle, you could be cited for a DUI. This is not the only legal trouble you could get into in this situation. You could potentially be charged with a “drunk in public” offense in violation of California Penal Code Section 647(f) PC.

Before they can make an arrest for driving under the influence, a police officer needs probable cause. If a police officer stopped you who did not have reasonable suspicion to do so, you might be able to have the charge dismissed with the help of a criminal defense attorney. If the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct a DUI investigation, then their findings could not be deemed reliable in establishing an arrest. 

If you were sitting or sleeping in your car and received a DUI, this would be a case involving lack of evidence that you were driving the vehicle. The officer must be able to prove that you were the driver of the vehicle in order to prove any criminal motor vehicle offense. In these cases, it is also important to prove the vehicle moved. Under California law, the officer must have observed the vehicle in motion before they would have the authority to stop, investigate, and arrest you for a DUI. Other reasons that a prosecutor might dismiss a DUI charge include:

  • Lack of evidence that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving

You cannot be charged with any crime, including a DUI, without proper evidence. The types of evidence that can be used against you in a DUI case include:

  • Officer testimony
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Police reports
  • Video footage
  • Statements made during the arrest
  • Physical evidence
  • Forensic evidence
  • Chemical test

As you can see, the evidence that can be used against you in a DUI case can be quite complex. You will want a lawyer on your side who understands the details of the evidence necessary, can locate any gaps, and defend your case accordingly. 

  • Lack of evidence through the chemical test or the chemical test was not properly administered

The implied consent laws of all states require drivers who are lawfully arrested for driving under the influence to agree to a chemical test. Chemical test results often prove evidence for prosecutors to make a DUI charge in court. It is most often a breath test or a blood test. The following situations could mean that a chemical test was improperly administered:

  • The sample was contaminated.
  • The sample was not taken by someone qualified to administer the test.
  • The sample was taken too long after the initial arrest.
  • The sample was improperly stored or transported.
  • The sample is not from the driver accused of being under the influence.

If you are facing a DUI charge with insufficient evidence, or you need legal support for another type of criminal case, The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch can help. Call us at (559) 484-2112 or contact us online to learn more.

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