Did you know that in Washington, you can still get slapped with DUI-strength penalties even if you aren't observed to be driving?
Technically, the charge is called "being in physical control of a vehicle while impaired" by alcohol or drugs. This means that even though you aren't actually driving your car, you are in a position to commence driving at any time.
This charge results in the exact same sentencing guidelines as a DUI charge does - including a stiff fine, jail time, a license suspension, and an ignition interlock requirement. So if you think you're too drunk to drive and want to "sleep it off" in your vehicle, some would say don't do it - or you could wind up under arrest just like you would had you tried to drive drunk.
(Contrary to that bad legal sentiment, the statute does allow for an affirmative defense if you are "safely off the roadway." Call us and we will explain this defense.)
If you argue that this law is counterproductive when it comes to keeping impaired drivers off the road, you may be right. Perhaps Washington should follow the lead of another Western state.
In June, that does permit impaired individuals to sleep in their vehicles. The person must make sure that the engine is turned off, the car is parked legally, and they are sitting anywhere but in the driver's seat. Also, the person could be charged with DUI if they are discovered to have driven the vehicle to its location while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
But until Washington legislators wake up and come to their senses, "sleeping while intoxicated" in your vehicle is still usually illegal in the state.