Can you be convicted for a DUI when you are just “sleeping it off” and not even driving? YES!
You don’t have to be behind the wheel of a moving car to be convicted for a DUI. In fact,
“sleeping it off” in your car while leaving the engine running can be enough.
People v. Morris Precedent
In 2014, in the Fourth District Court of Appeals decided a case discussing this exact issue, People v. Morris, 2014 IL App (1st) 130512. In that case, a Chicago police officer found James Morris asleep in the front seat of his parked car, with the car turned off, his driver’s side car door open and his keys in his right hand. Morris was a case where there was a bench trial instead of a jury trial so the judge decided whether or not Morris was guilty instead of a jury returning a verdict of guilt or not guilty.
The main issue, in that case, was whether the Defendant, James Morris was “in actual physical control” of his vehicle. In Illinois, the law says a person can be in “actual physical control” of a car without driving it or even intending to put it in motion.
City of Naperville v. Watson, 175 Ill.2d 399, 402, 222 Ill.Dec. 421, 677 N.E.2d 955 (1997). When determining whether someone is in “actual physical control” of a vehicle, the Court looks at each situation on a case by case basis, looking at four things:
- if you had the ignition key;
- if you were physically able to operate the vehicle operate the vehicle;
- were you sitting in the driver’s seat; and
- were you alone in the car with the doors locked.
People v. Slinkard, 362 Ill.App.3d 855, 859, 298 Ill.Dec. 858, 841 N.E.2d 1 (2005). These factors provide a guideline for the Court to use when determining whether you had “actual physical control” of your vehicle, but these factors are only guidelines and the Court is allowed to consider other things too. There isn’t one of these factors by itself that determines if you will win or lose your case. People v. Morris, 2014 IL App (1st) 130512, ¶ 17, 16 N.E.3d 269, 276
What to Learn
Morris serves as a warning for you. Don’t make the same mistake he did. “Sleeping it
off” in your car can still be enough to get you arrested and convicted for DUI. Your car doesn’t
need to be moving or even running for you to get in trouble. Instead, take a cab or call a friend
rather than trying to “sleep off” a night of drinking in your car. If you do find yourself charged
with DUI call Schierer & Ritchie LLC. to fight for you at (309) 839-2024.