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Can You Be Arrested for DUI While Sleeping In A Parked Car

New Hampshire laws allow people to legally face arrest and prosecution for driving while intoxicated (DWI) even when they are not moving or behind the wheel. State lawmakers have considered decriminalizing sleeping in vehicles because of impairment over the years. However, occupying a car over the legal limit remains unlawful, regardless of whether the individual in question is driving or even whether the keys are in the ignition. Convictions for DWI, also called driving under the influence (DUI), result in criminal and administrative penalties, long-term financial hardship, and inconvenience. Intoxicated driving puts the driver, passengers, and others on the road at substantial risk of life-threatening or fatal injuries and losses. New Hampshire courts take all DWI arrests seriously. If you have been arrested for DUI while sleeping in a parked car, consider calling (603) 707-4800 to schedule a meeting with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer at Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC, to discuss your legal options.

New Hampshire Drunk Driving Laws

The state attorneys in New Hampshire prosecute intoxicated driving arrests aggressively and to the fullest extent the criminal statutes allow. The consequences of a conviction and severity of the penalties can vary significantly, however, and to a large extent will depend on the unique circumstances of the case, including prior DWI convictions.

While sleeping in a parked vehicle can lead to an arrest, motorists have legal rights and many potential defense strategy options. Regardless of the charges, everyone is innocent in the eyes of the law until the prosecution proves otherwise, and arrested individuals have the right to defend themselves against criminal charges and their commensurate punishments. A seasoned criminal defense attorney at Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC could answer specific questions about DUI while sleeping in a parked car and help you review possible options for a defense. 

Criminal Penalties for DUI Convictions

A first-time arrest and conviction for driving while intoxicated DWI will result in a class B misdemeanor, a minimum of $500 in fines, the requirement to complete an impaired motorist education program, and a driver’s license suspension. The convicted individual must also report to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services to submit to a drug and alcohol abuse screening. If the agency determines a substance abuse disorder is likely, they may require additional evaluations and treatment.

Administrative Penalties and Driver’s License Suspension

The administrative penalties of an intoxicated driving conviction may include driver’s license suspension or revocation. The terms and duration of the suspension will depend on the individual’s background, such as prior convictions, and whether aggravating factors were present. Many are unaware that agreeing to perform field sobriety tests alongside the road or highway is not a legal requirement. However, motorists using state roadways automatically agree to implied consent when they obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license. Anyone who refuses to submit to chemical testing may face the same penalties, including losing driving privileges, as they would for a conviction. 

In many cases, the court may allow for early reinstatement of the individual’s driver’s license. However, they often require the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID). Per the guidelines, rules, and regulations provided by the New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), drivers must also complete the required Impaired Driver Care Management Program before reinstatement of their driver’s license. A sound defense could help avoid losing driving privileges or approval to obtain a restricted license for work and other daily tasks and responsibilities.

DUI Charges in New Hampshire

When a New Hampshire law enforcement officer approaches a vehicle and suspects someone is under the influence of intoxicating substances, they usually ask the driver to perform field sobriety testing exercises. If the officer arrests the driver in the field, the suspect may undergo chemical testing at the precinct to confirm intoxication. The severity and potential defense strategies will depend on the circumstances and factors of the arrest and case.

Aggravated DWIs

A DWI arrest with aggravating factors is a serious criminal matter and can significantly increase the severity of the charges and penalties. According to the New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated § 265-A:18, aggravating factors include an arrest for driving while intoxicated with a minor under 16 in the vehicle at the time of stop or a blood alcohol content BAC over 0.16 percent. 

The sentencing following a conviction for aggravated DUI carries additional penalties and is a class A misdemeanor. A convicted individual could spend anywhere from five days to one year in jail. They may also be required to enroll in a substance abuse program, put on driving probation, subjected to license suspension, as well as experiencing an increase in insurance premiums, and having to pay steep fines. If the intoxicated driver causes accidents causing severe bodily harm, then they may be charged with a Class B felony, which carries harsher sentencing requirements than a misdemeanor traffic offense.

DWI Probation

The criminal court judge has the authority to place drivers on DWI probation to reduce penalties, including jail time. The terms of alternative sentencing depend on the individual’s background. Failure to complete programs and comply with the terms of probation will likely result in the court ordering the party to jail.

Potential Drunk Driving Arrest Defense Strategies

Some of the essential factors to consider when planning defense strategies after an arrest for sleeping in a vehicle while intoxicated include the following: 

  • Whether the keys were in the vehicle’s ignition 
  • Whether the car’s motor was running when the officer approached 
  • Where the vehicle was parked when the law enforcement officer approached the automobile
  • The probable cause for the traffic stop, as cited by the arresting officer
  • Whether there may have been a violation of the individual’s Constitutional rights 
  • Any potential invalidity in field sobriety or chemical testing

United States citizens and residents have legal rights, such as the right to remain silent during an arrest. Knowing and exercising one’s Constitutional rights can improve the chance of reaching a positive outcome significantly.

Meet With an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today

DWI arrests under any circumstances are stressful, expensive, and overwhelming. Planning an effective defense strategy to reach a positive outcome can be a complex undertaking. That is particularly true for an arrest resulting from sleeping in the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Please remember you do not have to fight the charges and defend your rights and your freedom alone. Call an experienced New Hampshire criminal defense lawyer at Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC, for help with a DUI while sleeping in a parked car case at (603) 707-4800.


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About the Attorney
Jesse Friedman

Jesse has personally represented thousands of clients throughout the State - from juvenile delinquency offenses through homicides. He has extensive trial and litigation experience and has obtained favorable outcomes for thousands of clients throughout the years.

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