It seems like the age-old story in North Carolina. A young person goes out drinking with their buddies and decides to sleep it off in their car on the side of the road. They’re awoken in the middle of the night by a police officer knocking on their window. The next thing they know, they’re exiting their car and asked to perform a field sobriety test. They’re still pretty drunk from before and they’re also half asleep. The odds of them are performing well on this test are slim to none. When they’re arrested and charged with DUI, they wisely call an Asheville, North Carolina criminal defense lawyer right away.
Once they are back home, they think back on what had happened. They go online and research whether you can be charged with DUI if you’re sleeping in your car. They’re confused because it seems like the laws in every state are different. This is absolutely correct. Depending on where you live, you may be charged with DUI even if you were fast asleep at the time of your arrest.
Here, we will discuss the DUI laws in North Carolina. Will also explain the different elements of DUI according to the North Carolina statute. Finally, we’ll talk about the various ways your Asheville, North Carolina criminal defense lawyer can get the charges reduced or dismissed entirely.
Let’s Take a Look at the DUI Laws in North Carolina
According to North Carolina law, in order to be arrested and charged with DUI, you must be operating a vehicle at the time of your arrest. Operating a vehicle includes several elements. First, you must have actual and physical possession of your car at the time that you’re stopped. Secondly, the car has to be in motion or have the keys in the ignition.
When you look at the elements of this offense, nowhere does it say that you can be arrested if the car is not running or in motion. This makes you think that you couldn’t possibly be arrested and charged with DUI if you were asleep when the cops stopped your vehicle. However, the police in North Carolina have enough discretion to decide whether a person is in control of their vehicle at the time of their arrest.
Despite what the other states consider for DUI purposes, in North Carolina you must be in a moving car or have the keys in the ignition in order to be charged with DUI.
Your Asheville, North Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyer Will Argue You Weren’t Operating a Vehicle
When you go online and search for “the best DUI lawyer near me”, you’ll find the information for our firm. Our attorneys have a reputation for being some of the best criminal defense lawyers in North Carolina. Every week we meet with potential clients who’ve been arrested and charged with DUI. They all have the same concern -they don’t want to be convicted of DUI and have their license taken away for six months to a year. Nor do they wat to pay thousands of dollars in fines or face a jail sentence.
They rely on our Asheville, North Carolina criminal defense attorneys to get the charges against them dismissed or reduced. If you happen to have been asleep at the time of your arrest, your attorney will do their best to a defense against the state.
As long as you were asleep and the car was not running at the time of your arrest, your attorney will argue that you were not operating a vehicle as required by the North Carolina DUI statute. Since the prosecutor carries the burden of proof, it will be up to them to prove to the judge that you somehow were in physical control of the vehicle, and you were operating it at the time of the traffic stop. That will be very difficult for them to do if you were fast asleep when the officer tapped on your window.
Since you live in North Carolina, a state that has consistently refused to convict people who were asleep at the time of their arrest, there’s a good chance the charges against you will be dismissed. Worst case, your lawyer will argue to have the charges reduced to a reckless driving charge. While a reckless driving charge does carry fines and points on your license, you won’t be facing a mandatory license suspension, nor will you be required to go to alcohol and drug counseling classes.
It Isn’t Worth the Risk – Take an Uber or Get a Ride Home
While your Asheville, North Carolina criminal defense lawyer will fight to get the charges dismissed, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to sleep it off in the back seat of your car. If you know that you’re going to be drinking, you shouldn’t get behind the wheel-period. You can always call for an Uber or Lyft to pick you up. Or you can have a friend drive you home. There’s always a chance that the prosecutor will still be able to convict you even if you were asleep when the officer issued the arrest. This is especially true if you have a criminal history or previous convictions for DUI in North Carolina.
Contact One of the Best DUI Lawyers Near You
If you have recently been arrested for DUI, the first thing you should do is do a search for the “best DUI lawyers near me.” If you’re calling from your jail cell, it may be a good idea to call a family member and have them look up our information. Once you retain our services, we will be more than happy to work with the prosecutor to get you released from jail. We will also aggressively try to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed entirely. While you’re certainly able to handle your DUI defense on your own, it’s not a good idea. With so much at risk and so much at stake you’re much better off with a legal professional by your side.