Driver Found Asleep at Illinois McDonald’s Drive-thru Charged With DUI

Sleeping in a vehicle while intoxicated can lead to criminal charges. One driver who fell asleep in a River North neighborhood McDonald's drive-thru found this out the tough way when Illinois DUI charges were filed against him.

The Tennessee man was arrested after Near North District police officers found him asleep in a McDonald's drive-thru early on New Year's Day. The man was asleep in the driver's seat. The keys were in the ignition, his SUV was running and in drive. But the man had his foot pressed heavily on the brake pedal.

Officers woke the man up and asked that he turn off his vehicle. According to the Chicago Tribune, when officers asked the man if he needed medical attention, he replied that he "just wanted another McDonald's sandwich."

The man's speech was slurred and officers smelled the odor of alcohol. The driver admitted drinking wine, but officers found a partially empty bottle of tequila on the vehicle's floor. To make matters worse, the driver provided officers a false name. When he took a breathalyzer his blood-alcohol content (BAC) was .207. Out-of-state DUI charges are an added complication for the Tennessee resident, who will likely need to attend several court appearances.

Actual Physical Control of Illinois Vehicle

Illinois law states that a "person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle" when his or her BAC is over 0.08. "Actual physical control" broadens DUI beyond solely driving a vehicle while impaired.

In the above circumstances, the driver was probably in control of his vehicle, because he left the vehicle running while taking a nap with the vehicle in drive and his foot on the brake. However, under the physical control definition, a driver who decides to sleep in a parked vehicle rather than driving home while intoxicated may be charged with DUI.

In these cases, the court looks at the following factors on a case-by-case basis:

  • Was the defendant in the driver's seat
  • Did the defendant have the key to the ignition
  • Was the defendant alone in the vehicle
  • Were the doors locked

In one case, a DUI conviction was upheld when the defendant was found alone asleep in a sleeping bag in the backseat of the car. Although the car was not running, the keys were in the ignition and the doors were locked. The Illinois appellate court noted that being in the driver's seat was not essential to have actual physical control of a vehicle.

Illinois DUI laws are complex and highly dependent on the specific circumstances of each case. If charged with a DUI, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. A lawyer can offer advice on whether any defenses might exist based on the facts of your case.