Every driver should know that it is illegal to operate a car while drunk. Because of this, after having a few drinks, one might be tempted to take a nap in their car to allow the alcohol to wear off before driving home or to another destination. While choosing to sleep rather than drive while drunk may sound noble, it could still get you in trouble.
A little-known highway code under the 1988 Road Traffic Act makes it illegal for drivers to be in a vehicle when over the legal alcohol limit. The legal limit for drivers in the UK is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, which equals 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration.
In most cases, the police will use a breathalyzer or an alcohol test to determine the level of alcohol in a driver’s system. Where a breathalyzer is used, anything more than 35mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath is considered above the legal limit. In a urine test, 107mg of alcohol in 100ml of urine is above the legal limit.
Drunk in Charge Law
Under the Road Traffic Act, it is illegal for a person to be in charge of a motor vehicle on the road or any other place after consuming alcohol above the prescribed limit. Upon arrest, a person will be charged with drunk driving while in charge of a motor vehicle.
Most people mistakenly assume that being drunk in charge means actively driving a vehicle. While operating a car while drunk does fall under the purview of being drunk in charge, any other situation that puts you in the likelihood of driving a car while drunk can also be considered being drunk in charge. Such situations include sitting in the car with the key in the ignition or sleeping inside the car while in possession of the keys, even when you are not in the driver’s seat or the keys are not in the ignition slot.
Penalties for Drunk in Charge
If you are convicted of drunk in charge, the law prescribes ten points on your license, a maximum fine of $2,500, up to three months in jail, or a driving ban. It is important to note that the severity of your consequences will depend on if you are a first-time or a repeat offender.
“With stakes this high, it is important to seek legal help when arrested for being drunk in charge, even when you feel innocent,” says Shawn Sukumar of Shawn Sukumar, Attorney at Law.
There are alternatives to sleeping in your car while drunk to avoid getting in trouble. The most convenient option is booking a hotel room. Alternatively, hail a cab to your desired destination or call a friend to your location and have them drive you home. If neither of these options is available for you, you will be better off napping in the car than getting on the road while drunk, which puts you and other road users at risk of an accident. When there is reasonable evidence to prove a lack of options, your lawyer can use necessity as a defense strategy.
Is It Okay to Sleep in Your Car if You Are Not Drunk?
If you are tired from driving, it is perfectly okay to sleep in your car as long as you are parked safely. Always ensure that you are well-rested before getting on the road to avoid the likelihood of drowsy driving. The Highway Code recommends taking 15 minute breaks after driving every two hours behind the wheel.