This may come as a surprise, but it's possible to be charged with a DUI even if you weren't actually driving a vehicle. That's what happened to a former Navy SEAL who was arrested on the night of April 8 after police received reports of a man sleeping in his car.
Defendant Allegedly Failed Sobriety Tests
According to law enforcement in Butte, Montana, they discovered the man asleep in the front seat in the parking lot of a convenience store with the vehicle's engine running. When they woke the 39-year-old man, they suspected him of being under the influence. He allegedly failed one field sobriety test and refused to take any further ones. Therefore, he was taken to the local jail.
This wasn't just any service member. Robert James O'Neill was a member of the famous SEAL Team 6 that located and killed Osama bin Laden. In fact, O'Neill says he was the team member who actually killed the terrorist at his compound in Pakistan in the 2011 raid. He left the Navy in 2012 and later began speaking about what he says was his role in the mission.
After O'Neill was taken to jail in his hometown of Butte on Friday, he refused both a breathalyzer and blood test. However, he did take another sobriety test, which he allegedly failed.
O'Neill Says He Took a Sleeping Aid
O'Neill later said in a statement that he had taken a prescription sleeping pill before he was discovered by police in his car and arrested. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge against him. However, he admits that "the timing was bad and I highly regret this decision." He also thanked the Butte police officers for their "professionalism and courtesy." He is free on bond.
It may seem like the responsible thing to do to pull over and park if you realize after getting behind the wheel that you're in no condition to drive. Obviously, that's preferable to continuing on the road. However, by remaining in the car, particularly in the front seat with the motor running and access to your keys, you risk arrest for a DUI. The safest thing is to turn the engine off, get out of the car and call someone to drive you home. If you do find yourself facing a DUI charge, an experienced attorney can help work to mitigate the consequences based on the circumstances.
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