Can I Get Arrested For Sleeping In My Car In Alabama?

It’s the last call at the bar, almost closing time. You’ve had several drinks and you don’t think it’s a good idea to drive. However, you don’t want to call an Uber and abandon your car in the parking lot in fear of getting ticketed or towed. What do you do?

Many people in this scenario would decide to fall asleep in the car, hoping a quick nap would be enough to sober up and drive without being impaired behind the wheel. However, sleeping in your vehicle can still result in a DUI arrest.

According to Alabama drunk driving law, a person doesn’t need to be caught driving to be charged with drunk driving. Alabama is considered an “actual physical control” state, meaning that you possessed the ability to operate the vehicle at any moment even though it wasn’t moving.

Common indications of having actual physical control include the following:

  • The person is sitting in the driver’s seat
  • The key was in the ignition
  • The engine is running
  • The radio is playing
  • The heater or air conditioning is on

For example, if you were found sleeping in the driver’s seat with the keys in your hand, law enforcement can determine–based on the totality of the circumstances–that you were about to drive the vehicle prior to falling asleep. If police officers notice fresh tire tracks or the tires are warm, they may claim you were actually driving before you pulled over to sleep.

At Tidwell Law Group, LLC, our Birmingham criminal defense lawyer recommends you avoid this type of scenario by electing to have a designated driver or rely on ridesharing services or public transportation. But if you must sleep in your car after having consumed alcohol, sleep in the backseat, do not turn on your car, and place your keys inside the center console or glove compartment, it is possible to argue you had no actual physical control of your car. A more convincing action to demonstrate lack of actual physical control would be placing your ignition key somewhere outside your vehicle, such under your tire or a rock.

If you have been arrested for sleeping your car in Birmingham, contact us and schedule a free consultation today.