Can You Get a DWI in Your Sleep? Yes.
According to an NJ.com report, an interesting South Brunswick driving while intoxicated arrest was made in the early hours on April 10. The Hamilton Township man was arrested for DWI after being found by South Brunswick police asleep in his car that was parked at a Target off of Route 1 at around 2:30 a.m.
The 33-year-old was sound asleep in his running vehicle with the lights on when officers attempted to rouse him by knocking on the window. After several minutes of knocking, the gentleman finally awoke. He was said by the police to have had slurred speech and a strong odor of alcohol on his breath. He was arrested after consenting to and allegedly failing a field sobriety test. He was also charged with careless driving.
There are several points of interest regarding this case. First of all, in order to be arrested for and charged with a DWI in Middlesex County, or anywhere else in New Jersey for that matter, police must demonstrate two major elements. For example, in the case of this South Brunswick drunk driving arrest, the police had to ensure that 1) the man actually operated the vehicle, and 2) that the man was indeed drunk at the time of the field sobriety test. What makes this case so interesting, however, is that the man was asleep and therefore not technically in the process of operating the vehicle. So how was this man arrested if he was not actually operating the vehicle? The answer lies in the state’s definition of operation.
Pursuant to New Jersey Law, N.J.S.A 39:4-50 tells us that the element of operation is established not only if there is actual operation, but also if it is clear that the offender exhibits: 1.) Physical control over the vehicle, 2.) The ability to operate the vehicle, and 3.) Intent to operate the vehicle (e.g. keys in the ignition with intention to move vehicle).
Taking into account the law as well as the accuracy of the police report and facts presented, the man indeed meets the requirements necessary to prove operation. He certainly had physical control over the vehicle as he was sitting (or laying) in the driver’s seat. Due to his placement within the car he also certainly had the ability to operate the vehicle. Finally, while the fact that he was sleeping seems to negate his intent to drive, New Jersey law provides that keys in the ignition signifies intent under the law.
This case provides an excellent opportunity to understand the intricacies of New Jersey DWI law. Middlesex County police aggressively patrol for drunk driving throughout the county, especially when it comes to DWI arrests in New Brunswick, Woodbridge, East Brunswick, and Edison. For more information regarding Middlesex County driving while intoxicated charges and penalties, feel free to browse our site or contact William Proetta Criminal Law at (732) 659-9600.