Just Sleep It Off: Important Facts on Drinking and Sleeping in Your Car

Just Sleep It Off: Important Facts on Drinking and Sleeping in Your Car

sleeping drunk in car

Had a few too many drinks and thought you can just sleep them off in your car, or maybe get a bit active and take some non-motorised transport home? Be very careful! You may think this is a harmless way to sober up and get home, but you can get into some serious deep water if you don’t have a breathalyser to check your blood alcohol level first. 

Laws against these types of things can often be hazy and a bit difficult to understand. Even doing some research on this I found it difficult to get a true understanding of the rules. During this little piece I’ll hopefully be able to clear a few of your questions up and make it a little easier to understand.

Can I Be in My Car After a Few Drinks?

Let’s start with being in your car while intoxicated. Trying to move your car is regarded as drink driving, and as obvious as this one should be don’t try it. No matter the distance the charge will be exactly the same as going for a drive. This also goes for sitting in your car with the keys in the ignition or nearby, especially when sitting in the driver’s seat, but also sitting in any seat located in the front compartment of the vehicle. In all these situations you are considered ‘in charge of the vehicle’ as stated by the law.

Where this law begins to become a bit more confusing is if you are in other sections of your vehicle. If you’re sleeping in the back seat of your car with your keys on you, it can be to the discretion of the police officer whether you are breaking the law or not. If they deem that you are ‘in charge’ of the vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol you could be charged with breaking the law. So you will need to prove that you are not ‘in charge’ to not be considered breaking the law.

If police find you in your car and believe that you may be under the influence they may require you to:

• Provide your name and address

• Show a current driver’s license

• Take a roadside breath test

• Take a breath test from a police station

• Get a doctor to take a blood test

Failing to provide any of these upon request is considered an offence.

Other Laws to Know When Getting Home

So looking at this information sleeping in your car while intoxicated, may sound harmless and smart, can leave you at a high risk of breaking the law.

Maybe you will try an alternative method to get home?

But remember there are laws with this as well.  A vehicle does not only mean cars but also includes boats and jet ski’s as well as any mode of transport that moves on wheels, for example push bikes. For non-motorised vehicles you are considered drink driving if you are using them on the road while over the limit. Additionally, it is also illegal to ride any animal while over the limit, such as a horse.


Last of all, never attempt to drive if you are unsure whether you are above or below the legal drinking limit. For the best results use a reliable breathalyser which will give you an accurate reading and let you know if you are able to safely drive.