Can You Get a DUI While Parked in New York?

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Can You Get a DUI While Parked in New York?


If you’re sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car and you’re intoxicated, then there is a chance the police could arrest you and there is a chance you could receive a DUI or DWI conviction. 

Any time your blood alcohol content (BAC) is over the legal limit you want to avoid sitting in a driver’s seat, holding car keys, or turning your car on for any reason. 

Vehicle Operation

New York law states no person shall operate a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol consumption.

Operating a vehicle isn’t the same thing as driving a vehicle. Turning on the car to run the air conditioner or the radio may count as operating the vehicle. 

Some defense lawyers have been successful at getting clients out of a DUI charge when the engine is not in operation, only the electrical system. Nevertheless, this is not really something you want to risk.  

Location of the Car

What if you’re sleeping in a parked car with a high BAC?

If you’re still parked at the bar it may be fine. Retreating to your own car to sleep it off without driving the car isn’t necessarily illegal.

If the police find you in a parking lot that’s miles from the bar then you may be in trouble. That indicates that you drove the car while drunk, especially if your BAC is over the legal limit when the police officers find you. 

The police are looking for evidence that you drove drunk. They aren’t necessarily looking to catch you in the act.

Note that even if you sleep at the bar, it might be wise to sleep in the back seat, not the front seat. This provides less of an appearance that you meant to drive the vehicle at any point. 


If you’re walking to your car while drunk, have your car keys in hand, and aren’t with any other person, and you’re spotted by a police officer, then you could get arrested before you even touch your car. 

The idea is that you intended to drive while under the influence and that is enough to see you arrested. 

Need help?

New York penalties for DWIs are quite severe. From the moment you are charged with a DWI you will need help to minimize the impact these charges may have on your life, freedom, and future.

We are DWI/DUI expert criminal defense lawyers who are here to help, and we have the time and resources to devote to your case. Don’t take chances. Contact us to get help today.

See also: 

What Happens When You’re the Passenger in a Car Pulled Over for DUI in NYC? 

What Happens at a NYC DUI Traffic Stop? 

How to Properly Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent, and Why it Matters

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