It's Friday night. It's been a long hard week. You go out with some friends and have a little too much to drink. You can't get a ride home and you know that you cannot drive. So you get in your car and decide that you will sleep it off there. Being the wintertime, it is cold so youturn the car on and run the heater to keep warm. You eventually turn the car off and fall asleep. That is when a police officer sees you and investigates.
All too often people in Pennslyvania think that they can only be convicted of Driving Under The Influence (DUI) if a police officer pulls them over and gets a blood or breath test that shows that the driver is over th elegal limit (.08 for an adult and .02 for a minor). This is wrong. The DUI laws in Pennsylvania are very broad.
To be convicted of DUI in pennsylvania you need to be in possession and control of a motor vehicle and either over the legal limit or a police officer has to form the opinion that you are 1) under the influence of drugs or alcohol, 2) to such an extent that it would render you incapable of safe driving.
So lets go back to our example. You had too much to drink. After waking you up the officer questions you. You have slurred speach, the odor of alcohol, disheveled appearance, blood shot and watery eyes and your coordination is poor. This is enough for an officer to form the opinion that you are 1) under the influence of drugs or alcohol and 2) to such an extent that it would render you incapable of safe driving.
Having failed the first part of the test you conclude that all will be well as the person wasn't driving the car. This would also be wrong. The first thing the officer will do when he or she approaches your car is to touch the hood. The hood is warm because you were running the heater. The police oficer will conclude that the hood is warm because you drove the car. The officer finds you asleep in the driver's seat. Clearly you are sitting in a place where you could operate the car. The keys are in the ignition. In Pennsylvania this is sufficient evidence to show that you can control and operate the vehicle. In Pennsylvania, people have been arrested and convicted in this exact scenario.
So what should you do? First, don't drink and drive. Second, make sure that you have a designated driver available.