December brings the end of the year. This means you and I will be traveling to holiday parties from now through the new year. Sometimes the host serves alcohol at these parties. You and I often have to travel home after these parties. Sometimes, we may have a drink or two (or three) at the party.
Often, a person leaves a holiday party after having a few drinks thinking they are okay to drive. After a time, the person realizes that maybe he or she should not be driving. The person decides to pull into a parking lot or park along the street. The person may call for a ride or just sit in the car. Often, because the weather is cold, the person keeps the car running to keep warm. The person may fall asleep.
Intuitively, parking the vehicle is the correct thing to do. Pull over for your safety and the safety of others. Stay in the car and keep warm. Maybe sleep for a time until the effects of alcohol wear off.
Legally, pulling over and staying in the driver’s seat puts you at risk for a DUI arrest. This is because you are likely to be considered in physical control of your vehicle. The DUI statute contemplates you being able to start driving at any time even if the car is off and the key is not in the ignition. The vehicle does not have to be in motion or even in working order for you to be considered in physical control of your vehicle.
You must get out of your vehicle at the request of police if the police approach. You do not have to answer any questions, nor do you have to perform any tests offered by the police. Be advised, you will likely be arrested if your refuse to answer questions and refuse to perform tests offered. You will not give additional proof of impairment from alcohol if you do not speak or perform tests if you are arrested after refusing questioning and refusing to perform tests.
If you do begin to drive and pull over and begin to feel buzzed, immediately pull over. Turn off your vehicle and exit the vehicle. Call a friend or a rideshare service to pick you up. Do not sit in the vehicle no matter how cold it is outside.
Contact Herzberg Law Firm if you are arrested for DUI after attending a holiday party. Steven Herzberg focuses his legal practice on defending people charged with DUI and other traffic offenses.
Have a safe holiday and a happy and safe New Year.