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Should You Get a DUI for Sleeping it Off?

WEBWIRE President Peter Buh contributed this weekend to the hot debate on the legality of “sleeping it off” in one’s vehicle when it comes to DUI laws. Last week, a Pennsylvania Court handed down a decision in favor of motorist Victor Verdekal, who police say had a strong odor of alcohol and staggered out of his vehicle while nearly falling several times. Law Enforcement officials were upset by the decision which came as a result of the fact that Defendant Verdekal was never observed moving the vehicle. In fact, he was found in a parked vehicle sleeping it off.

“Most states by now have ‘actual physical control’ laws on file to address matters like Mr. Verdekal’s,” Attorney Buh stated. “Unfortunately for would-be law abiding motorists, those laws are written against them. The typical jury instruction states that if the driver was in a position to move the vehicle by starting the engine and placing it into gear, then that driver is in ‘actual physical control’ under the DUI statutes and subject to arrest if intoxicated.”

“The problem with this law, which the Pennsylvania Court clearly understood, is that many drivers are choosing the safe option for all of us by leaving the bar and getting in their car to sleep and not drive. Whether a driver starts the car or not is irrelevant to law enforcement. If they find that the driver could start the car then they are prepared for and want the DUI arrest.” Buh stated. “Many officers don’t even believe they have discretion in these matters.”

“This is an unreasonable approach under a countless number of circumstances, but it happens every day. For everyone’s benefit it is good that the Pennsylvania Court got it right. If a motorist consciously makes the decision to not drive his vehicle and to remain off the road until confidently sober, then that driver should be appreciated, not vilified as a criminal. The next step is to see if the Supreme Court agrees,” Attorney Buh concluded.

Attorney Buh is founder and President of, a national lawyer referral corporation that encourages zealous representation of drivers charged with DWI and DUI.


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