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Sitting in your car while drunk could result in a criminal charge

It may be easy to get caught up in the fun of having drinks with friends and accidentally have one too many. You drove to the pub, but you know it would not be safe to drive home in your current condition.

Should you take a little nap in your car while your body metabolizes the alcohol? It depends on where in the vehicle you choose to sleep.

Ohio law states that you must not be in physical control of a vehicle while one or more of the following is true:

  • Your blood alcohol content is 0.08%
  • You are under the influence of a drug of abuse or alcohol, or a combination of the two (your BAC does not necessarily have to be at or above the legal limit for this to apply)
  • You have a controlled substance or listed metabolite in your blood or urine

These are the same conditions that would get you in trouble for actually operating the vehicle impaired.

The key to physical control is not operating the vehicle, but being in a position where you could. The law defines physical control as sitting in the driver’s seat and having possession of your vehicle’s ignition key or device.

If a law enforcement officer comes knocking on your window, he or she can administer field sobriety tests or a breath test. As long as the officer complies with all the standards for such tests, he or she may testify as to your ability—or lack thereof—to successfully complete them, and the prosecution can use the results in court.

Rather than getting into your car, it may be better to ask a sober friend to drive you home, or to take an Uber or taxi. If you do decide to take a nap, you want to make sure you do not appear to be in physical control of the vehicle. Put your keys in the glove box and sit in the back seat until it is safe to drive again.

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