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PA Supreme Court Considers The Case Of Man Sleeping In Parked Vehicle

Posted by Richard Lawson | Mar 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

Many people enjoy a few alcoholic beverages while spending a night out on the town. While much of the time people moderate their consumption, it's all too easy to miscalculate and end up too intoxicated to drive home. When an individual finds themselves in this situation there are a number of different options such as getting a ride home with a friend, calling a ride-sharing service, or hanging out at the bar for a few more hours. In addition, sometimes people choose to try and ‘sleep it off' in their vehicle. Many people may think this is a good option as they can't drive home, yet don't want to leave their car behind. And while they may be in their vehicle, they aren't driving it.

However, it is important to note that the DUI law in many states can apply to a driver who is in ‘actual physical control' of a motor vehicle –- even if he or she is asleep.

Falling asleep while in his vehicle is what led to one Pennsylvania man's DUI arrest. According to Penn Live, Edward Adams was snoozing behind the wheel of his White Dodge Dart in the early morning hours of January 2016 when he was spotted by a passing patrol officer. Adams, a local business owner, was not stopped in the middle of the road or pulled off to one side; rather, he was in the parking lot by his store. The officer pulled in to investigate and approached Adams' vehicle.

The engine of Adams' car was not on nor were his lights. In addition, his keys were located in the back of the car. Upon speaking with Adams, the officer observed signs of intoxication and subsequently arrested him for DUI. A jury eventually convicted Adams of the offense and he was sentenced to 6 months of probation. Adams appealed once and was unsuccessful. However, Adams is again challenging his conviction and just recently the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to take up the case.

The court will consider whether or not the police officer had sufficient cause to investigate to begin with. Specifically, the court has authorized argument on the following issue:

Whether the trial court erred in denying Appellant's [Adams'] motion to suppress when he was detained for pulling into his own business, when such was closed, and thus the stop and subsequent detention was not supported by probable cause or reasonable suspicion of activity?

It will be interesting to see how the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decides this question. Will the court agree with Adams or the Commonwealth?

In Georgia, the same issue holds true: you can be arrested for DUI if you were found sleeping the alcohol off in your vehicle, but in Georgia, with an experienced defense lawyer, these kinds of cases are very defensible. What usually happens is an officer sees you in your vehicle and approaches to conduct a safety check to make sure you are ok, and if he or she smells alcohol on your person, then a DUI investigation may proceed under the assumption you had been driving under the influence. In these cases, the officer's encounter with you is not about the reasonable suspicion that a crime occurred, rather it is about your "safety," which in Georgia, police officers are permitted to conduct safety checks when the situation calls for it.

If you have been charged with driving under the influence, you want a competent, experienced, and knowledgeable Fulton County DUI attorney on your side. Contact the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson today.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Richard S. Lawson is passionate about intoxicated driving defense. Unlike some attorneys, Mr. Lawson devotes 100% of his legal practice to helping people stand up for their rights against DUI charges. For more than 20 years, Mr. Lawson has dutifully fought for his clients' freedom, resolving more 4,900 impaired driving cases during the course of his career. Today, Mr. Lawson has developed a reputation as a skilled negotiator and continues to help clients by fighting to keep them out of jail.


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