Can I Get a DUI Just for Sitting in My Car?

Can I get arrested for DUI simply for sitting in my car?

Dear Attorney Baron,

I am a little embarrassed to share my husband's quirky habit. To let off steam, he likes to sit in our car to drink beer and listen to music. My friends tell me he can be arrested for drunk driving. How is that possible?


Dear Stacey,

Although great strides have been made by groups like M.A.D.D., drunk driving continues to be a problem in Connecticut. As a result  laws governing drunk driving have become increasingly stricter. You are correct. There are some scenarios where it is  actually possible to get arrested for DUI simply for sitting in your car. If your keys are in the ignition and your blood alcohol content is over .08, you can conceivably be arrested for driving under the influence.  

If a person is sitting behind the wheel of a car with the keys in the ignition, it is reasonable to assume that the person can and will drive the car in the immediate future. When police or other witnesses have seen this person acting as if they were under the influence, police have the right to stop this person from driving.

Under the meaning of Connecticut statutes, a person operates a motor vehicle when he or she intentionally does any act or makes use of any mechanical or electrical agency which can set in motion the motive power of your vehicle.

The court reasons that once you stick your keys in the ignition, you have taken a significant step to get your car going. 

In a famous 2005 case, an intoxicated Andover man started his car with a remote starter and then sat in the driver's seat. It did not matter that he did not move the car. He was still convicted.  

I hope I was able to answer your question. Thank you for taking the time to write.

The preceding post was provided for informational purposes only. Always consult with an attorney before proceeding.

Attorney Adrian Baron is a partner in the Connecticut law office of Podorowsky Thompson & Baron. Prior to working for PT&B, Mr. Baron served as an aide to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in New York. An award-winning legal writer, he was recently selected as a Superlawyer New England Rising Star, a distinction given to only 2.5 percent of attorneys in the state.To learn more about him, please visit him on the web at www.ptblegal.com

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David Ryan Polgar March 09, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Interesting topic. It might be fun to explore the laws surrounding drinking and bicycle riding. There are a few states, such as Oregon, that treat a bike as a vehicle. Where does CT stand on this?


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