Are you wondering can I get a DWI for sitting in my car while intoxicated? If so, then you really need to read this post!
Receiving a DWI is a life-changing event for most people. Having to go through the sheer embarrassment of getting arrested and getting your life’s perceived mistakes dragged out in court is enough to add stress to anyone’s life.
While most of us take care not to drink and drive in today’s world, there are times that even when you are doing the right thing can find you arrested and charged with a DWI—sitting in your car while intoxicated could lead to an arrest if the circumstances are just right.
Let’s take a look at why you could find yourself charged with a DWI while simply being in your car without driving and what you can do about it.
PRO TIP: You may also want to read this article what to do if your child is arrested if one of your kids gets arrested for DWI.
What Does The Law Say?
The law in most states, including Louisiana, is clear; you can be charged with a DWI if you are found operating a motorized vehicle. The trouble comes with the interpretation of what operating means. This is where the help of a skilled DWI attorney is important too.
Courts have interpreted this differently based on what the scenario was during a DWI stop. There are cases where people have realized they could not drive and were arrested sitting in their car. Here are a few examples of when cases have involved arrest for DWI.
- Intoxicated in the car with the vehicle in gear and running
- Intoxicated in the car with the car running
- Intoxicated in the car with keys in the ignition
- Intoxicated while sitting in a car where evidence showed you operated the vehicle
Remember, the law is that the prosecution must prove that you were in control of the vehicle and operated it. If the state has evidence of this and thinks they can prove it in court, you can be arrested for DWI while sitting in your car.
What to Do if Approached While In Your Car After Drinking
If you find yourself in a situation where you are unsure if you’ve had too much to drink, call a friend, cab, or rideshare program to take you home. If this is not possible, you may be tempted to climb inside your car and sit until you are confident you are not over the legal limit to drink.
If this is the case, there are certain things you should never do if you suspect you may have had too much to drink, like the following:
- Sit in your car with the engine running
- Drive, even for a short distance
- Sit in the car with the keys in the ignition
While none of these will guarantee you will not be arrested for DWI, your chances in court are much better, and give your attorney something to work with. The takeaway from this is that motor vehicles and drinking do not mix, so don’t give the police a reason to think you are trying to operate a vehicle after a night out of drinking.
If you can stay away from the car all together you are better off; at least choose to sit in the passenger or back seat to show you have no intention of driving.
How Will An Attorney Help If You Are Charged With a DWI
As mentioned, in criminal cases, the burden of proof is always on the prosecution. After hiring an attorney, they will fight to make the state prove you did or intended to operate a vehicle while intoxicated. Although this will not help keep you from an arrest, a conviction is much harder to accomplish in court without the prosecution able to prove this portion of the case.
How to Hire the Best Attorney for Your Case
If you find yourself charged with a DWI, you’ll need the help of a DWI lawyer. Since there are lawyers who specialize in many different fields of the law, make sure you choose one who is a good fit for your case, especially if the circumstances exist of being arrested while sitting in your car.
Here are a few characteristics to look for when hiring an attorney for a DWI charge. In addition, please read this article what type of attorney do i need before getting started.
- Experience defending DWI cases: This, of course, makes sense as you certainly would not hire a real estate lawyer to handle your case. But even within those who practice criminal law, there are differences in experience levels of the types of cases they defend. Ask a prospective lawyer how many DWI cases they have defended in the past.
- Hire a DWI attorney who cares. If you find yourself arrested for a DWI while not operating it, the attorney you hire should see your case as an opportunity to make a statement to the courts. If they do not, they are not the attorney for you. The lawyer you hire should be excited about defending you with your DWI.
While getting arrested for a DWI while sitting in our car is possible, you should hire an attorney to defend your case in court.