Can I be charged with DUI for sleeping in my parked car?

The DUI defense attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. often represent clients who were trying to be responsible and “sleep it off.” Unfortunately, this area of Illinois law is complex. In Illinois, it is unlawful for a person to be driving OR in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence.

Under Illinois law, the phrase “actual physical control” means that a person was in the vehicle with the ignition key and able to exercise physical control over the vehicle by starting the engine and causing the vehicle to move. It is not necessary that you be actually driving the vehicle.

This means if you are in your car and have the “ability” to start the car and cause it to move, you can be charged with DUI. If the car is parked, the engine is off, the keys are on the floorboard, and you are asleep, you still may be considered to have the “ability” to start the engine and cause the car to move.

In Illinois, the courts have held that a person discovered with the keys in the vehicle sleeping in a zipped sleeping bag in the back seat could be charged with DUI. Similarly, a person who is found in a vehicle with the keys but simply using it for shelter with no intent to drive can still be charged with DUI.

However, contrast this with the person who is found in the vehicle without the keys. This person would likely be found to not be in physical control because he or she did not have the ability to exercise physical control over the vehicle.

If you are charged with DUI, contact the DUI defense attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. to discuss your case. We provide high-quality legal representation throughout the Chicagoland area including Cook County, Lake County and DuPage County.

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