February 13, 2023

DUI While Sleeping in a Car in Arizona

You've had a few drinks and instead of driving home, you opt to sleep it off in your car. But what constitutes a DUI while driving in car in Arizona?

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Contributors & Editors

Dane Perikly

Director of Virtual Services & DUI Education

Last Update on June 5, 2023

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DUI While Sleeping in A Car 

If you’ve had one too many drinks and intend to sleep in your car in Arizona, be aware that you can be arrested for this action.

According to Arizona law, if the police catch you driving under the influence of alcohol after you have already parked your car with the intent of sleeping, they can charge you with a DUI even if your vehicle doesn’t move while they are present.

Similarly, if an officer catches you sleeping behind the wheel while intoxicated and in control of a car, you could also be held accountable for DUI charges.

If arrested after being found sleeping in your vehicle while intoxicated, consequences may include fines and potentially jail time depending on prior criminal record or degree of intoxication – stay safe by reserving sleep for designated places such as hotels or houses.

The Arizona Statute ARS § 28-1381(a)(1)

The Arizona DUI statute1 clarifies that driving under the influence is a serious offense. 

According to this statute, going or being in control of a motor vehicle while under the influence and impaired is illegal, even to the slightest degree. 

This means operating a motor vehicle with any level of impairment caused by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two can land a person with a severe legal penalty.

Law enforcement looks out for slurred speech, erratic movements, odd conduct, and unstable behavior when determining if a person should be considered impaired and taken off the road for their safety as well as the safety of other drivers.

Those convicted face fines, court costs, jail time, license suspension/revocation, enrollment in DUI School, probation, vehicle immobilization, or impoundment.


Under the Arizona DUI Law, those convicted of driving under alcohol often have an alcohol interlock device installed in their car as part of a vehicle’s anti-theft program, known as Actual Physical Control (APC).

This device ensures that the driver does not have any alcohol in their system before operating a motor vehicle. 

The device also monitors for abnormally high levels of alcohol and has been proven to reduce the number of drunk driving incidents by making it harder to move when intoxicated.

Once installed, law enforcement can detect a vehicle equipped with APC and be assured that only sober drivers are behind the wheel. 

The Arizona DUI law ensures all drivers are responsible on the roads; using APC helps deter potential offenders from getting back behind the wheel while still impaired.

Factors of Arrest for DUI while Sleeping in Car

Sleeping in a car while under the influence will be considered when determining if a person has violated the Arizona DUI statute.

All these factors can combine to help prosecutors build their case and prove that a driver actively intends to drive while intoxicated:

  • If the vehicle is running;
  • Is the ignition still on;
  • Where the ignition key is located;
  • Where and in what position is the driver found in the car;
  • If the person is awake or asleep;
  • If the headlights are on;
  • If the car is stopped;
  • If the driver has voluntarily pulled off the road;
  • Time of day

How to Avoid a DUI while sleeping in a car

If you have already been caught driving under the influence, you know first-hand the legal repercussions of such a charge.

But if you haven’t and are reading for informational purposes, know that avoiding a DUI while sleeping in a car and keeping your record clean is possible.

The Law Office of James Novak2 details several ways to do this. It would be best if you always planned for potential after-party transportation plans. 

Consider prearranging designated drivers or calling an uber, Lyft, or cab if you intend to drink.

If you find yourself in a situation where you must sleep until you are sober to drive, here are some tips that can help keep you safe and avoid a DUI charge:

  • Do NOT put the keys in the ignition or turn on the headlights.
  • Place your keys in your pocket, purse, or glove compartment.
  • Sleep in the passenger seat or the backseat of your vehicle.
  • Make sure you are parked in a safe place, such as a friend’s house or a well-lit area, rather than the shoulder of a road.
  • Avoid driving until you are fully alert and sober.

These simple preventive measures can help keep those dreaded charges at bay and ensure that your night out doesn’t end in an unfortunate way.

Consequences for DUI Arrest in Arizona 

In Arizona, being charged with a DUI can lead to severe consequences.

Penalties may include jail time, hefty fines, a suspended license, and even the installation of an interlock device.

 It is essential to take all necessary steps to avoid a DUI charge.

Drivers convicted of a DUI can receive up to 6 months in jail and may be required to pay fines depending on the individual’s criminal history.

 Depending on the severity of the offense, penalties can range from $500 to upwards of $3,000.

In addition to serving jail time with hefty fines, those convicted of driving under the influence could have their driver’s license either revoked or suspended and be ordered to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their vehicle.

An IID monitors the alcohol on a driver’s breath through a small hand-held unit connected to the car’s ignition system. 

It requires the driver to blow into it, and if the results show signs that they may be under the influence, the engine will not start.

For all the potential consequences of being charged with a DUI, taking steps to stay safe and prevent these charges from occurring is essential.

Contact a DUI Attorney for Help if You’ve Been Charged

If you have been charged with a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offense in Arizona, you must seek the counsel of a qualified DUI attorney right away.

By engaging an experienced attorney, you can ensure your rights are protected from the moment of your arrest and that your case is handled appropriately by law enforcement and prosecutors.

They’ll further assist you throughout each step of the proceedings and be a source for representing your interests in court.

Arizona takes DUI offenses very seriously, with consequences ranging from license suspension to jail time.

 Working with an experienced DUI lawyer can help make sure that any penalties you receive will be appropriate for your circumstances. 

Begin DUI education classes at Cornerstone DUI

Cornerstone DUI services provide the help you need to meet court requirements.

From comprehensive DUI assessments and alcohol assessments to online DUI classes, our team is dedicated to delivering quality customer service that meets all your state-mandated needs.

Plus, because we’re MVD-approved and work directly with the state of Arizona, you can trust that all aspects of your services will be adequately handled as they comply with the current laws.

Our dedicated professionals are here to lead you step by step through each process component. Get in touch today and see how our DUI services can help you! 


[1] The Arizona Statute ARS § 28-1381(a)(1)

[2] Can I Get a DUI for Sleeping in My Car But Not Driving?

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Author & Reviewers

dane perikly dui writer headshot

Dane Perikly


Dane is the Director of Virtual services at Cornerstone. He contributes guides on DUI education so that you can understand all there is to know about DUI charges, education, and the overall process of meeting Arizona requirements after a DUI. He cares deeply about raising awareness of the dangers of DUI and illustrating the impact on victims and on those charged. 

lionel estrada lisac clinical director

Lionel is the Clinical Director of Cornerstone’s Scottsdale treatment facilities. He has had over 4 years at Cornerstone. He is personally in recovery and passionate about helping others overcome substance abuse and mental health challenges, he is trained as an EMDR, adopting a trauma-informed approach to treat the underlying issues of conditions.

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