In the wake of the pandemic, many people have decided to travel in a personal vehicle instead of traveling by air. Therefore, situations arise that would not otherwise be thought about prior to this crisis. Traveling across the country gives rise to some unusual situations. This a good subject regarding the laws of drinking in vehicles that are parked overnight.
Scenario Situation: Car Camping and Drinking
I recently started to travel all over the country. I make enough money working online to live comfortably out of my full-size Suburban. My new passion for drones has me moving from place to place for that perfect footage making camping in my vehicle the perfect solution. I have a couple of questions about whether or not I will be able to have a beer or two while camping in my car. If I am in a rest stop or permitted parking In the evening and have a couple of drinks in the back of my vehicle before I go to sleep, can I get arrested for DUI? Or better yet, how could I prevent getting one? I know you’re going to say don’t do it, but at this time it’s easier to stay in my vehicle than to pay for a hotel every night. Sometimes I’m not even near a hotel. I don’t need much more than what I have right now and with this whole covid 19 thing it just makes it easy to travel without having to interact with too many people or come in contact with a lot of different places.
As a side note for drone pilots, I never fly my drones when I have been drinking as it’s against FAA regulations and it could harm someone.
Tips To Avoid a DUI While Car Camping
First, we have to say it…do not do it at all.
Second, if you are going to do it the following tips could help you avoid a DUI depending on the particular state you are currently traveling in.
- Do not put the keys in the ignition. In a lot of states including Nevada keys in the ignition is 1 indicia which may be considered regarding the intent of driving. Without the keys in the ignition, it could be hard to prove intent and driving itself.
- If possible lock the keys in a lockbox.
- Doing your best to be in the back of the vehicle is advised. And keep the keys out of the ignition. This could show you do not intend on moving the vehicle.
- You have to make every intention to try to be clear that you would not be driving, but most important of all, just do not do it.
Am I at risk of sleeping in my car after drinking?
Once you have been drinking you are always at risk. Think about whether it would be smart to do so. For example, where are you? Is it cold outside? Will you have enough heat without the engine running? You have to be sober before you can move that vehicle. Consider the same thing in the heat depending on where you are at. Once the keys touch the ignition, every intention is there. In Nevada, we have represented many clients who had the car running because of the heat and fell asleep. There are many factors: Where was the driver (passenger seat is good or back seat is best) Again, just don’t do it.
When I am camping in my car can I get into trouble for an open container in a trash bag inside the vehicle?
If it’s in a trash bag it’s trash. However, it would be a good idea to put the bag outside the vehicle or in a place that is inaccessible until you’re ready to drive then get rid of it as soon as possible.
Do not litter, always pick up your trash and dispose of it properly. Best advice, just do not do it.
Can I be convicted of DUI for sleeping in my car in Nevada?
Yes, if the following two conditions are true:
- You are impaired by drugs or alcohol, or else your blood contains more than the legal limit of alcohol or drugs; AND
- You are “in actual physical control” of the motor vehicle.1 even if you are not driving you could be in actual physical control.
2) How can a sleeping person be “in control” of a parked motor vehicle in Nevada?
Whenever the keys are in the ignition. Under Nevada DUI law, having your keys in the ignition is a factor in determining whether you are in actual physical control of the car even if the engine is off and you are sleeping in the backseat or by the side of the road.
There are additional circumstances that make it more likely for police to arrest a sleeping person for DUI. These include:
- The car lights are on;
- The car is on a public road; or
- You are sleeping in the driver’s seat, always sleep in the passenger seat, or better yet the back seat.
In Rogers Vs State. The Nevada Supreme court delineated actual physical control but there is no bright-line rule.
The court concluded that a person is in actual physical control when the person has existing or present bodily restraint, directing influence, domination, or regulation of the vehicle. In deciding whether someone has existing or present bodily restraint, directing influence, domination, or regulation of a vehicle, the trier of fact must weigh a number of considerations,
1 including where, and in what position, the person is found in the vehicle;
2 whether the vehicle’s engine is running or not;
- whether the occupant is awake or asleep;
- whether, if the person is apprehended at night, the vehicle’s lights are on;
- the location of the vehicle’s keys; whether the person was trying to move the vehicle or moved the vehicle;
- whether the property on which the vehicle is located is public or private;
- and whether the person must, of necessity, have driven to the location where apprehended.
- Another issue is when the driving occurred. If it cannot be determined that the chemical test ( breath or Blood) was taken within 2 hours of driving then the Blood alcohol content (BAC) would be inadmissible.
- This is why you need an experienced DUI lawyer
Although more costly would it be better for me to look for a KOA campground?
Yes, good question, usually KOA campgrounds are notorious for malfeasance (wrongdoing or unlawful conduct) and police monitoring them. If you were to stay at a KOA, we would suggest no partying, no loud music, and don’t bring attention to yourself. Another option would be to find a quieter campground that is more cost-effective for your situation. The website Outside How has a terrific article on 50+ Useful Camping Apps that could help you find something in a pinch.
Consult a Local DUI Defense Attorney
Drinking in your car is a very risky thing. We can provide advice about how to avoid a DUI while sleeping in your vehicle but every situation is unique. The bottom line will be the local laws along with the local law enforcement you come in contact with.
If your intent is to drink in a parked vehicle, we suggest you contact a local DUI defense attorney to review the current state laws. Your best defense will be to make every attempt to show you did not intend on driving. One final piece of advice is to just not do it.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DUI while camping in their car in Nevada give us a call. Schedule a consultation with DUI Defense Attorney Mace Yampolsky to review your case at 702-385-9777.
For more information on how criminal lawyers can help you with Tips to Avoid a DUI While Camping in Your Vehicle, please contact us at (702) 385-9777.