When you’re out with friends and had too much to drink, many know that driving drunk in the state of Louisiana is illegal. As a solution, some decide to just sleep off their drunkenness in their car and drive home the next morning. While this practice alone can create complications, what many don’t realize is that merely sitting behind the wheel is also grounds for arrest, depending on the circumstances.
Louisiana Guidelines for Drunken Parking
Like several other states, Louisiana law enforcement can charge a DUI/DWI offense if the driver is in the vehicle and has the keys. Possession of the keys is a gray area that relies on other circumstances surrounding the driver’s physical situation.
For an officer to charge an individual with a DUI while in a parked car, the location of the driver, the vehicle, and the keys will determine if there’s enough evidence for an arrest. An assessment of the entire situation determines if the motorist actually operated the car or was in control of it while drunk. If the driver was in a situation where driving away was easy, this poses a threat to public safety, and a jury may find them guilty of DUI.
Awake or Sleeping Doesn’t Matter Much
Louisiana looks at the totality of the drunk driving situation when determining probable cause or conviction in DUI cases. A driver being asleep or awake doesn’t matter as much as some of the other factors involved that can increase the likelihood that a drunk driving offense has occurred. The position of the driver in the car or the location of the keys often play a significant role in determining guilt.
The Driver’s Location in the Car
The focus of the driver’s proximity to the ignition of the vehicle is essential when determining operation or control. This is the main reason juries convict defendants for drunken driving when sitting in the driver’s seat.
Location of the Parked Vehicle
Juries need to know where a defendant parked the car to understand if it was in motion or had just stopped when law enforcement showed up. If a driver parks in the driveway of their home, it’s possible to avoid conviction, but if the car was on a sidewalk, in the middle of a highway or on the shoulder of a back road, this might damage defense efforts.
Where are the Keys?
In this age of new ignition technology, the location of the keys or the sensor to start the engine can be critical to an individual’s case. Again, if the keys are not in an easily accessible location, that could convince the jury that there was no danger of the driver operating or controlling the vehicle while drunk. For those who left their keys in their pockets, on the passenger front seat, or in the glove box, it won’t go over well in court.
Running the Car Engine
Discovering a drunk driver with their engine running is never a good position to be in during a DUI trial. A running engine indicates that a simple changing of gear and push on the gas pedal has the intoxicated driver moving on the road and endangering lives. Rarely will the location of the driver in the vehicle get factored into deliberations. A driver who sleeps in the backseat but leaves the car running to avoid freezing in frigid weather might convince a jury there wasn’t any danger of driving away.
Seasoned DUI Attorneys in Louisiana
Your freedom and future are at stake when charged with a DWI/DUI in Louisiana. If you tried to sleep off a few drinks before going home, and an officer accused you of drunk driving, contact a seasoned Louisiana DUI attorney right away.
Attorney Eric G. Johnson has vast experience in trying intoxicated driving cases, and he’s extremely knowledgeable about which legal strategies are the most effective in handling your case. Because Eric has tried so many felony and misdemeanor cases in Louisiana’s courts, his representation also ensures no violations of your constitutional rights will occur. He has more than 25 years of experience defending DUI and other alcohol-related cases throughout Louisiana. Call 318-225-8092 for a free and confidential consultation or request more information online.