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Can You Be Arrested for a DUI While Sleeping in Your Car?

One can be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Tennessee while asleep in one's car. You can be arrested for DUI under two different theories under Tennessee' DUI Law. First, you can be arrested for DUI if you are operating a motor vehicle on a public road or an area open the public at large. Secondly, one can be arrested for DUI if one is in Physical control of the car or truck. Sleeping in your call falls under the physical control component of a Tennessee DUI charge.

In Tennessee v. Lawrence, The Tennessee Supreme Court addressed the issue of physical control;

 "A second line of DUI "physical control" cases involves the situation in which the defendant is found intoxicated either in or beside the parked vehicle and the circumstantial evidence strongly indicates that the defendant drove to the location in an intoxicated condition. For example, in State v. Farmer, 675 S.W.2d 212 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1984), the defendant was found sitting behind the wheel of his car. The keys were in the ignition, the ignition was on, but the engine was not running."

The court upheld a conviction for a DUI while being in physical control of a car even if you were asleep. The courts and juries will look to some of the following facts.

  1. Was the car running?
  2. Where were the keys?
  3. Where was the person positioned in the car?

Arguing physical control is always better than fighting driving. If you have any questions about whether you were in physical control of a car please feel free to contact our office.