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Beware of "sleeping it off" in your car

If you feel that you have taken in too much alcohol to drive safely, you may consider sleeping it off in your car. It seems like a win-win. After all, you get to rest, and the streets have one fewer intoxicated driver.

However, if you do this, beware that there are some situations in which you could be charged with OVI, operating a vehicle impaired, in Ohio.

Engine running

The likeliest scenario in which you could face charges is if the car's engine is running. Of course, it could be running for a reason that has nothing to do with you planning to drive off anytime soon. For example, perhaps it is cold outside, you are in the parking lot of the bar where you drank, and having the engine running keeps the car warm while you sleep in the driver's seat. In such a case where there is nothing to indicate you already drove intoxicated, you are unlikely to receive an OVI charge, although it is possible. At most, authorities are more likely to find you in physical control of the car.

However, there is another reason the engine could be running, and this one is a more clear-cut route to an OVI charge. Suppose you were driving home and realized you were uncomfortable continuing because you felt too drunk (or drugged). You pulled over on the shoulder of the road, and your car still running, you fell asleep. Even if the weather outside is cold and you can make the argument that the engine was running for comfort purposes, an OVI charge is more likely. This is because it may be clear that you drove the car somewhere while you had to be intoxicated, and Ohio law considers both the operation of the vehicle and being under the influence for an OVI charge.

Physical control

physical control charge instead of an OVI charge can still be serious, potentially leading to a suspended license and an impounded vehicle, among other consequences. To cover all of your bases, you should sleep in the back seat of your car with the engine not running. Do keep in mind that some police officers do not know all the nuances of the law and may try to charge you with something.

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