You go to a bar, party or even a friend’s house and have a few drinks. At the end of the night, you head to your car. As soon as you get behind the wheel, you realize you’re in no shape to drive. Perhaps you drive a few blocks and realize the extent of your intoxication, so you pull to the side of the road.

“I’ll just sleep it off in my car,” you think to yourself. Maybe it’s cold, so you decide to run the heater. Perhaps you’d like to listen to some music as you drift off to sleep. The next thing you know, you’re woken by flashing lights and find yourself being booked for suspicion of drunk driving. But if you weren’t driving, how can you be charged with a DWI?

Is operating a car the same as driving a car?

New Jersey law requires an intent to operate the vehicle to make an arrest for a DWI. There is much legal debate over what an “intention to operate” actually means.

A DWI conviction was recently upheld in a case where a man was found asleep behind the wheel of his parked, running car. These cases often turn on the location of a person’s car keys. If your keys are in the ignition and the vehicle is running, you may be in trouble. Things become more unsettled when the facts are different.

Play it safe and get legal help if you find yourself in trouble

If you realize you’re too intoxicated to drive, the best thing you can do is find another way home. You might be doing the responsible thing by pulling over until you’re sober enough to continue. However, the state may not see things that way.

If you find yourself charged with a DWI in any type of situation, you should protect your rights with the help of strong legal counsel. At The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo, our attorneys provide free initial consultations. Call us at 908-643-6801. You may also contact us online.