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When Sleeping in Your Car Becomes an OWI

Avoid an OWI if you plan to sleep it off in your car

Going out to drink can create problems for you if you try to drive home. Your best case is to have a designated driver or call a taxi or ride service. Sometimes, you might decide to just sleep it off in your car. This will not always protect you from an OWI charge. If you do try to sleep it off, you will need to take extra steps to protect yourself.

What Is Operating a Vehicle?

OWI means “operating while intoxicated.” In Wisconsin, that does not just mean driving. Activating anything in the vehicle, even leaving the keys in the ignition, is all that is required to get you in trouble when your blood alcohol content is above the legal limit. If you keep the car running for warmth while you sleep, for example, you can be arrested for an OWI. Even if you leave the keys in the ignition, a police officer who finds you there may arrest you.

How to Protect Yourself

Again, your best bet is to get a ride from someone who has not been drinking. If you do try to sleep it off, you can take steps to prevent an OWI charge. First, make sure your car is not in the road or even on the shoulder. Don’t sleep in the driver’s seat. Sleeping in the back seat can also prevent a charge that you are operating your vehicle. Make sure the engine is not running. Don’t have the battery power on; keep the keys out of the ignition. Don’t drive somewhere drunk and then try to sleep it off. All of this demonstrates that you are not operating or planning to operate the vehicle.

What if You Still Get in Trouble?

Of course, none of these strategies is guaranteed to work. Sometimes, despite your precautions, a police officer may believe you are operating or planning to operate the vehicle while intoxicated. If you are arrested when trying to sleep off your drinking, you will need legal help. Contact Eisenberg Law Offices online or at 608-256-8356 to get the experienced defense you need.

EISENBERG LAW OFFICES, S.C.

308 East Washington Avenue Madison, WI 53703 (608) 256-8356

Madison WI Attorneys Since 1983


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The Information Contained In This Site Is Not Intended To Provide Legal Advice. Please Consult An Attorney To Discuss The Facts Of Your Individual Situation. Eisenberg Law Office, S.C. 308 E. Washington Ave., Madison, WI 53703 USA (608) 256-8356