If you are safety-minded, you might decide to sleep off a night of drinking in your car. This keeps you off the road, you get to rest and do not have to fork over money for a ride home.
However, there can be a risk in this approach, especially if you are not in shape to do well on field sobriety tests. In fact, you might still be arrested for DUI despite trying to do the right thing by not driving.
Being in control of your car
In Tennessee, you could face DUI charges if a police officer believes you are in physical control of your car. In theory, you could even be sleeping in the back seat, and an officer could have cause to arrest you as long as you have the keys to the car. Of course, it may look worse if you are in the front seat with the engine running or if the keys are in the ignition while you sleep. The precedent was set with the case State v. Lawrence.
Why sleeping in your car is problematic
So why does this happen? Why would the state seemingly discourage people who are trying to be responsible? The reality is that only you can know your true intentions. For all a police officer knows, you planned to sleep for a mere 10 minutes and then intended to drive home. Or you could be sleeping, wake up in need of food and drive while still having a lot of alcohol in your system. The bottom line is that Tennessee views it as dangerous if you are in your car while intoxicated and have the keys even when there is no apparent evidence you plan to drive.
Moreover, it is possible to sleep overnight and still wake up drunk and legally intoxicated. The state would simply prefer that people deal with a night of drinking in ways other than sleeping in their cars.
If you have been arrested for DUI, keep in mind this fact: Every DUI case is unique. You may have one or more defense options available. Get help from an experienced DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible.