Can You Get a DUI for Sleeping in Your Car in Illinois?

Updated on 09/09/2021 / Under

If you’ve had too many drinks, sleeping in your motor vehicle until you’re sober is the right thing to do, right? Believe it or not, you can be charged with a DUI for sleeping in your car if the police officers find indications you had the intention of driving while drunk.

According to Illinois drunk driving law, a drunk driver can be arrested for drunk driving if they are found sleeping inside their parked vehicle while intoxicated. Convictions for drivers who are charged with a drunk driving offense include loss of driving privileges, jail time, and other legal penalties. If you have been charged with driving under the influence while sleeping in your car, it's essential to hire a skilled lawyer to help you come up with a solid defense strategy. The skilled DUI criminal defense attorneys at Naperville DUI lawyer have helped thousands of DUI offenders in Illinois beat their DUI-related offenses and we can help you too. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact experienced DUI criminal defense attorneys today at (630) 425-0250.

Illinois DUI Law

Under Illinois drunk driving law, it's a criminal offense for an individual to drive or be in “actual physical control” of a motor vehicle when:

  • The drunk person has a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more
  • The inebriated person is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or an intoxicating compound to an extent that makes the person drive erratically
  • There is an amount of a controlled substance in the drunk person’s body
  • The individual has a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration above the legal limit within two hours of being in actual control of a motor vehicle or driving.
If you have been charged with a DUI while sleeping in your car contact our law firm today.

Actual physical control is hard to define. This means the individual can start the motor vehicle and put it into motion. In the past, criminal courts have ruled that a person is regarded as having actual physical control of a vehicle, even if the ignition key isn't in the ignition, and the car engine isn't running. This means an intoxicated individual can be charged with DUI if even he or she is impaired and sleeping in his or her motor vehicle. 

One legal defense that may work in negotiating the driving under influence charge with the drunk driving prosecution, or at a jury trial, is that the drunk driver had a rising blood concentration level. That's the person had consumed alcohol before the police officers showed up and tested their BAC, and the person wasn't intoxicated or his or her blood alcohol content level wasn't at 0.08% at the actual time of driving.

The prosecution’s expert witness usually will point to circumstantial evidence that shows that absorption to a peak alcohol level takes between 20 minutes to 90 minutes - mainly depending on whether you had eaten any food, after which you fall. It makes a solid DUI case if a witness states that the driver bought alcohol and that they saw the driver drink it. Or if there was an admission that the driver had drunk alcohol after stopping the vehicle, and there were empty bottles of beer to prove it in the passenger seat.

However, often, most of the facts are against the driver, even as circumstantial evidence. It’s easy to focus on alcohol in sleeping in the vehicle cases, but we also have to show that any prescriptions or narcotics weren't consumed while driving, especially if it's driving under the influence of drugs case. 

Related: Debunking 8 Common DUI Myths

How an Attorney can Help You With a DUI

Since the law prohibits driving with any illegal substances in a driver’s bloodstream (even if legal), and if found to be driving under the influence of drugs, you're presumed to be driving under the influence - under the same statute as alcohol. That’s a rebuttable presumption, and as Chicago DUI criminal defense lawyers, we can present expert testimony that a person wasn't impaired. For most drivers, that leaves them with two remaining legal options if they can't challenge the traffic stop in the first place:

  • Challenging the chemical testing; or
  • Impressing upon the defense attorney any mitigation evidence. This includes any special licenses and other accomplishments, rehabilitation, charity work, character reference letters, or schoolwork, and negotiating something for a lesser sentence just based upon that.
Can You Get a DUI for Sleeping in Your Car in Illinois?

With the expert testimony and the right jury, a driver would have a solid case. Or with the right expert testimony and the right jury, and the help of a Chicago DUI lawyer, the jury could provide you with a not guilty verdict. Being in an immobile vehicle may be grounds for law enforcement officers to investigate you for intoxicated driving or any other alleged offense. As with many traffic stops and detentions by police, it depends on the circumstances of each case.

Drunk driving is a serious criminal offense in Illinois. Being convicted of a first-time DUI offense can result in a year of driver’s license revocation, hefty fines, and jail time for up to one year. The criminal penalties are harsher if you have previously been charged with driving under the influence arrest charges. If you are facing a drunk driving criminal charge, you need an experienced DUI defense attorney on your side, regardless of the circumstances of your DUI arrest. Call our criminal defense law offices today at (630) 425-0250 to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced DUI attorney in Naperville