Antioch: 2 Men Passed Out in Running Cars. Is That Drunk Driving? (Yes).

sleeping in cars is drunk drivingTwo men were found passed out at the wheel of their vehicles within two days in Antioch, California. Three disturbing discoveries were made in each case:

  • Their engines were running,
  • They were in drive, foot on the brake
  • They appeared intoxicated

Both men were booked under suspicion of DUI, even though they technically weren’t driving at the time. We’ll leave to the lawyers to hash out the particulars. It seems plausible that they would have to have driven to where they were found, and had either of them awakened, they wouldn’t be in shape to pilot their vehicle, and would have presented a danger to others on the road. So it’s good for everyone concerned that the police arrived when they did.

It’s interesting that California is more lenient than other states on intoxicated people who crawl into cars and sleep it off. In many states you can be arrested for something called physical control if you are drunk and asleep in the back seat of your car and have access to the keys. In California the police usually have to see the vehicle being driven.

In this case, there was no question that the vehicles were driven – they were on pause due to alcoholic stupor and would probably be driven again before it was safe to do so. In fact, the vehicles were time bombs, and the sleeping drivers the burning fuses. Perhaps they wouldn’t have gone off, but they might have. California sees about a thousand alcohol-related road fatalities each year.

California’s new ignition interlock law, SB 1046, goes into effect in 2019. After that, those convicted of drunk driving will be required to install ignition interlocks, which prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Once those devices are in place, drivers like these will not get a chance to reoffend. They’ll have to drive sober, or sleep it off at home.