Can I Get Arrested If I Sleep In My Car While Drunk In New York?

man sleep in car

Most New Yorkers are aware of the dangers and consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol. This is why some people choose to sleep in their car after a night of drinking rather than risk driving home while still intoxicated. However, this can actually be illegal in certain situations. Read on or reach out to a Nassau County DUI Lawyer to learn why it’s illegal to sleep in your car while drunk in New York.


If you’re caught, an officer might arrest you for DUI charges. Yes, you can get a DUI even if you aren’t actually driving. This is because a DUI is technically defined in New York law as operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. Operating a car does not mean the same as driving; simply having the engine running counts as operating a motor vehicle. So, if you’re intoxicated inside your car with the engine running, this could be considered a DUI offense.

You have a higher chance of receiving penalties if the police try to prove that you intended on driving your car while still drunk. If you really need to sleep in your car while drunk and need the engine on for heat, your best chance of avoiding arrest is by immediately getting in the backseat after turning the engine on. A criminal defense attorney can argue that if you were sleeping in the backseat, you had no intention of driving the vehicle.


The penalties you receive for a DUI conviction depend on your BAC at the time, the circumstances of the incident, and your criminal history. Most first-time offenders face fewer penalties than repeat offenders. If you weren’t actively driving the vehicle and are a first-time offender, you are likely to receive minimum punishment. The mandatory consequences of a first-offense DUI are at least $500 in fines, a license suspension for six months or longer, and participation in the Drunk Driving Program. However, first-first time offenders could face jail time for up to a year. After your second DUI charge, you are much more likely to face higher fines, longer jail time, longer license suspension, and required usage of an ignition interlock device (IID). Repeat offenders could receive $10,000 in fines or seven years of incarceration.

A seasoned DUI lawyer should be able to help you lessen the charges and subsequent penalties. Are you looking for quality legal counseling? Contact the Law Office of Jacob A. Rudman today for an initial consultation with an effective and experienced criminal defense attorney.

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