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Can You Face A DWI For Sleeping In A Parked Car In New Jersey?


During the festive holiday season, many drivers responsibly choose not to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. That said, a vehicle provides much-needed shelter from the cold night air after emerging from a bar or party. However, getting into a parked car may lead to legal consequences – even if you never put the keys in the ignition. A recent incident in New Jersey shows that merely sitting inside a vehicle while intoxicated could lead to DWI charges.

Man Charged with DWI after Police Discover Him “Slumped Behind the Wheel” 

On December 8th of 2023, it was reported that a man in Montgomery Township had been charged with a DWI offense after police discovered him slumped behind the wheel of a stationary vehicle. The individual in question was apparently taking a nap, and police made multiple, unsuccessful attempts to wake him. Finally, he regained consciousness and realized the serious nature of his situation.

This incident was particularly serious because of the location of the stationary vehicle. The suspect had apparently fallen asleep in the middle of the road – in such a way that he was blocking traffic. Police say that a “line of cars” were angrily honking their horns at the man, unable to move along the road. The suspect was in such a deep state of sleep that these loud noises failed to rouse him.

In this particular situation, the suspect was “slumped over the wheel” in a way that suggested he was driving right before passing out. The suspect was subsequently charged with DWI, careless driving, reckless driving, and delaying traffic.

Can You Really Face a DWI for Falling Asleep in a Car? 

Would this individual still face a DWI charge if he had been discovered sleeping in a legally parked vehicle in a quiet residential area? It depends on the situation. Perhaps most obviously, you must fail a Breathalyzer test or a field sobriety test after waking up.

Generally speaking, only those who leave their keys in the ignition may face DWI charges – even if they were simply running the engine to stay warm. In some cases, simply having your keys “near” the ignition is enough to suggest you were operating the vehicle while intoxicated. Furthermore, parking on the side of a highway implies that you must have been driving drunk in order to reach this remote location.

Find a New Jersey DWI Attorney Today 

If you are facing DWI charges in New Jersey, it is imperative to get in touch with a qualified, experienced DWI attorney as soon as possible. With our assistance, you can strive for positive possible results and mitigate legal consequences. Although it is true that simply falling asleep inside a vehicle on a cold winter night can lead to charges, various defense strategies may be possible. Book a consultation today to discuss these potential strategies in more detail alongside New Jersey criminal lawyer Phillip J. Murphy.




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Phillip J. Murphy,
Attorney At Law
Free Consultations Calls Answered and returned 24/7 Phone: (845) 639-6600 Fax: (845) 639-6620

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Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney At Law is located in New City, New York and serves clients in and around New York, New Jersey & Connecticut. Contact our experienced criminal defense law firm.
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