Can you get a “DUI” if you are sleeping off the effects of alcohol in your car?

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If you have had too much to drink and do not want to drive your car, do not sleep off the effects of the alcohol in your car. The Illinois Supreme Court has found that a man who was sleeping in his car with the car running and a blood-alcohol level of 0.18 was guilty of driving under the influence. At trial, the defendant was sentenced to one year of court supervision and a $250 fine.
The defendant argued that he had no intention of driving but was using his car only as a stationary shelter where he could sleep it off, so he was not in actual physical control of the vehicle under the drunk-driving law. Even though the issue of actual physical control of the vehicle is decided on a case-by-case basis, the courts apply such criteria as: (1) whether the drunk person was in the driver’s seat; (2) whether the person had the key to the car in his or her possession (presumably, if one does not have the key, actual physical control cannot be found); and (3) whether the person had the physical ability to start the engine and drive the car. The courts believe that a person who is behind the wheel of a parked vehicle can easily move into a position to operate the vehicle and endanger other people, property, or vehicles.
Critics may disagree with the court’s reasoning because drunk persons who would opt for sleeping off the effects of the alcohol in their cars will now have the incentive to drive home drunk, taking their chances that they will not endanger themselves or others, or that they will not get caught. On the other hand, the “sleeping it off” rule encourages people to make travel and lodging plans before they drink, rather than when their judgment is impaired.