A Word About Sleeping Off Holiday Parties in Your Car – Don’t.

elf mugshotOne of Santa’s helpers found the holiday season a bit too much strain this year. Police found a New Jersey man passed out behind the wheel of his car in an Elf on the Shelf costume. He was charged with DWI, careless driving, and possession of an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle.

Even though he wasn’t driving at the time of arrest.

The holidays are probably as good a time to remind people about a concept called Physical Control. You are no doubt aware of the penalties for driving while drunk, whether you’re in New Jersey or another state. But many drivers aren’t aware that you can violate DUI laws even if you’re not driving.

If you are drunk and in physical control of the vehicle – if you’re inside, with the keys, even if you’re asleep, for example – you are considered in control of the vehicle, and can be charged. New Jersey law states:

The municipal court shall determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether the arresting officer had probable cause to believe that the person had been driving or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle on the public highways …

Therefore, if you have been drinking heavily and decide not to drive – absolutely the correct choice, by the way – about the next worst thing you can do is to crawl into your car and sleep it off. It might not seem fair, but it’s the law.

Have a great holiday!