Asleep at the Wheel in New Jersey. But, is it DUI?

By Mary Ann

Bayonne New Jersey police spotted a man slumped over the wheel of his Volvo, Tuesday afternoon. The officers charged him with DUI. The 45 year old, Fair Lawn New Jersey man, was sound asleep. When they woke him, he had bloodshot eyes, his breath smelled of alcohol, and when he stepped out of the vehicle he was unsteady on his feet. The man failed a field sobriety test and had a BAC of 0.13, well over New Jersey’s DUI limit.

The police report did not indicate whether the car’s ignition was on. So, was the man DUI? New Jersey statutes define Driving While Intoxicated (DWI or DUI) as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor. The question for the court, here, is whether the ‘driver’ was operating a vehicle. He was asleep at the time. To be operating a vehicle, some states require that the motor be running, some that the key be in the ignition. It is unclear whether any state requires actual movement of the car.

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