The laws created by the state of Georgia prohibiting drunk driving were created to keep drivers on public roadways safe. The basic principles behind this are simple enough to understand: the impairment that comes from drinking alcohol or consuming other intoxicating substances renders a driver unable to safely operate a vehicle. An unsafely operated car, truck or SUV can put cyclists, pedestrians and other drivers at risk for serious injury or even losing their lives. However, in some instances, the laws that have been created to keep all of us safe on the roads are used in ways that do not serve the public interest.
One example of this is when an intoxicated driver who is not a harm to others is arrested for sleeping in a vehicle. This is not to say that there would never be an instance in which a sleeping driver is or was a danger to others. If someone consumed a large amount of alcohol or drugs, crashed their vehicle and passed out in the driver's seat, it would be logical to charge this person with a crime. However, drivers can be at risk for what sounds (and probably is) a smart decision: choosing to sleep in the car rather than drive drunk.
We all know that the safest route home after a night of imbibing if you must get in the car is to ride with a pre-selected designated driver, but many times this is not a feasible option. You may attend a social gathering after work and don't plan on drinking, but the circumstances change. Many suburban and rural areas do not offer reliable access to public transportation or cabs. You know that you should never take to the roads if you've had too much to drink. When in this circumstance, many drivers make the choice to sleep it off in their car, so they can wait until the morning to drive home. This sounds like a very reasonable decision, and one that keeps the driver and the public out of harm's way. However, if you make this choice, you can still be charged with DUI.
How Can I Be Charged With DUI If I'm Not Actually Driving?
You do not have to be driving a car to be charged with DUI. Georgia law states that a person is guilty of DUI if he or she drives or is in reasonable control of any moving vehicle. "Reasonable control" is defined generally as having the power to move the vehicle: you are probably in reasonable control if you are sitting in the drivers seat of a car and have the key in your possession. This means that you can be charged with driving under the influence even if you are sleeping.
The purpose of this law is to punish those who legitimately pose a risk: such as the drunk driver described above, who passes out after a crash. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence while you were asleep behind the wheel, you will unfortunately still have to handle several court proceedings. When dealing with the District Attorney and the judge handling your case, it will be important to highlight the fact that you were trying to make a safe decision. If you are in this position, please contact me. We can discuss the details of the night you were arrested and determine the best game plan for moving towards the best possible outcome.