Monatlvo’s GMC pickup truck was running and in park while he was stopped at the parking lot. The reason the truck was running was because it was 25 degrees Fahrenheit that February morning and he was trying to keep warm.
Montalvo awoke at 5 am with a Hamburg Police Department patrolman standing over him. The cop claims he wanted to make sure Montalvo was okay. The officer then insisted that he take a breathalyzer test, a request that Montalvoe refused.
He was arrested and forced to make a conditional guilty plea, intending to challenge the officer in court on the grounds that his actions violated the fourth amendment.
A New Jersey appellate court upheld the decision and convicted Montalvo of Driving Under the Influence for sleeping in a parked car while intoxicated.
He now faces a ‘driver’s responsibility’ tax of $3000 and an assorted array of complimentary fines and fees that add up to at least an additional $1000.
“From the perspective of the officer on the scene, I don’t find at all that what he was doing was unreasonable,” Superior Court Judge Thomas Critchley Jr. said in his rejection of Montalvo’s argument. “In fact, I find it would have been unreasonable to have stopped his inquiries at any point short of what he did.”
The appellate court agreed that the officer was acting reasonably to render assistance to someone who may have been in distress.
“The officer wanted to make sure the driver was ‘okay,’ nothing was wrong with the businesses and that the truck was operating properly,” the appellate decision concluded. “We are convinced that under the facts as observed by Officer Aaronson defendant was lawfully subject to limited inquiry based upon an objectively reasonable exercise of the officer’s community caretaking function.”
Lesson learned. If you are intoxicated do not sleep in your car. Either drive home or find somewhere else to sleep. Sleeping Under the Influence charges can be pretty expensive.[Via rottingnation.com]