In California, the law says that you cannot operate a vehicle if you’re under the influence. This influence often refers to the use of alcohol, but it could also refer to things like marijuana. Someone whose ability to drive has been impaired is not allowed to operate their car.
But what about a situation where they’re just trying to sleep it off and sober back up? For instance, perhaps you were at a party with friends and you thought you were sober enough to drive home. When you got your car, you realized that wasn’t the case, so you decided to take a nap in the car until it was safe to drive. Could you still be arrested?
Intent to drive
In a situation like this, what the police will be looking for is any intent to drive. The law does state that you have to be in control of the vehicle. So you may be able to avoid arrest by doing something like sleeping in the backseat while you have your keys stored in the glove box. It’s clear that you had no intent to drive the vehicle and you were not in control of it at any point.
However, if you are sleeping in the front seat with the keys in the ignition, then the police may claim that you had intent to drive. They didn’t necessarily see the car in motion, but it’s clear that you were either going to drive in the near future or had been driving very recently. This could still lead to an arrest in some cases.
That said, this type of arrest will be more complex than if you were pulled over while the car was in motion. It’s critical that you know about all of your legal defense options and the steps you can take at this time.