Tips to Avoid a DUI While Camping in Your Vehicle

In the wake of the pandemic many people have decided to travel in a personal vehicle instead of traveling by air. Therefore situations arise that would not otherwise be thought about prior to this crisis.

We came across a question from a young man that is traveling across the country. We felt his situation would be a good subject to address as he is asking about the laws of drinking in vehicles that are parked overnight.

Scenario Situation: Car Camping and Drinking 

I recently started to travel all over the country. I make enough money working online to live comfortably out of my full size suburban. My new passion for drones has me moving from place to place for that perfect footage making camping in my vehicle the perfect solution.

I have a couple questions about whether or not I will be able to have a beer or two while camping in my car.

If I am in a rest stop or permitted parking In the evening and have a couple drinks in the back of my vehicle before I go to sleep, can I get arrested for DUI?

Or better yet, how could I prevent getting one?

I know you’re going to say don’t do it, but at this time it’s easier to stay in my vehicle than to pay for a hotel every night. Sometimes I’m not even near a hotel.

I don’t need much more than what I have right now and with this whole covid 19 thing it just makes it easy to travel without having to interact with too many people, or come in contact with a lot of different places.

As a side note for drone pilots I never fly my drones when I have been drinking as it’s against FAA regulations and it could harm someone.

Tips To Avoid a DUI While Car Camping

First, we have to say it…do not do it at all.

Second, if you are going to do it the following tips could help you avoid a DUI depending on the particular state you are currently traveling in.

  • Do not put the keys in the ignition. In a lot of states including Massachusetts keys in the ignition is considered intent of driving. Without the keys in the ignition it could be hard to prove intent.
  • If possible lock the keys in a lock box.
  • Doing your best to be in the back of the vehicle is advised. This could show you do not intend on moving the vehicle.
  • You have to make every intention to try to be clear that you would not be driving, but most important of all, just do not do it.

Am I at risk sleeping in my car after drinking? 

Once you have been drinking you are always at risk. Think about whether it would be smart to do so.

For example, where are you? Is it cold outside? Will you have enough heat without the engine running?

You have to be sober before you can move that vehicle.

Consider the same thing in the heat depending where you are at. Once the keys touch the ignition, every intention is there. Again, just don’t do it.

When I am camping in my car can I get into trouble for an open container in a trash bag inside the vehicle?

If it’s in a trash bag its trash. However it would be a good idea to put the bag outside the vehicle or in a place that is inaccessible until you’re ready to drive then get rid of it as soon as possible.

Do not litter, always pick up your trash and dispose of it properly. Best advice, just do not do it.

Although more costly would it be better for me to look for a KOA campground? 

Yes, good question, usually KOA campgrounds are notorious for malfeasance (wrongdoing or unlawful conduct) and police monitoring them.

If you were to stay at a KOA we would suggest no partying, no loud music, and don’t bring attention to yourself.

Another option would be to find a quieter campground that is more cost effective for your situation. The website Outside How has a terrific article on 50+ Useful Camping Apps that could help you find something in a pinch.

Consult a Local DUI Defense Attorney

Drinking in your car is a very risky thing. We can provide advice about how to avoid a DUI while sleeping in your vehicle but every situation is unique.

The bottom line will be the local laws along with the local law enforcement you come in contact with.

If your intent is to drink in a parked vehicle we suggest you contact a local DUI defense attorney to review the current state laws.

Your best defense will be to make every attempt to show you did not intend on driving.

One final piece of advice is to just not do it. 

If you or someone you know has been arrested for an OUI while camping in their car in Massachusetts give us a call.

Schedule a consultation with OUI Defense Attorney Gregory Oberhauser to review your case. 978-452-1116



Attorney Gregory Oberhauser

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Gregory Oberhauser is the ONLY attorney in Massachusetts to be distinguished as an ACS-CHAL Forensic Lawyer-Scientist by the American Chemical Society!

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