“Intent to Operate” is Significant Element in New Jersey Parked-Car DWI Cases

Did you know that you can be charged with DWI even if your car is parked and your keys are in your pocket?

People have even been arrested for DWI in New Jersey after they arrived at their destination, exited the vehicle, and sat down at a diner counter to eat.

It may seem strange, but it’s extremely risky to try to “sleep it off” in your parked vehicle, a legal situation that Assemblyman John McKeon says that the legislature should revisit.

A 43-year-old DWI case highlights the potential for inconsistent application.

In State v. John Daly, a man was drinking at a bar in the winter. He left the bar drunk, went to his car, and turned the ignition on so the heater would work, then he went to sleep.

He was arrested for DWI, and went to court arguing that his intention was to sleep without getting frostbite, not to “operate” his vehicle.

The court agreed with him, and ever since, there has been a risk of inconsistent enforcement of DWI laws.

Whether new law is made around this point remains to be seen, but the takeaway for New Jersey drivers is that there are defenses to DWI, especially when you weren’t operating your vehicle at the time of your interaction with police.

A DWI conviction in New Jersey is a big deal, and can leave you unable to drive for months or longer.

Don’t risk inflated insurance rates, hefty fines, and getting familiar with a bus schedule.

Call Matthew Reisig today at 732-625-9660 for a free consultation with an experienced New Jersey DWI defense lawyer.

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