snopes.com  


Go Back   snopes.com > Urban Legends > Automobiles

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 16 April 2014, 10:06 PM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 109,611
Icon24 Avoid a DUI by disconnecting your battery

Comment: HOW TO GET OUT OF A DUI

If you are trying to be responsible by "Sleeping it off"
disconnect your car battery. Your car is now considered
inoperable. Although you may still be considered for public intoxication,
the police may not arrest you for a DUI.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 16 April 2014, 11:03 PM
mags's Avatar
mags mags is offline
 
Join Date: 23 February 2006
Location: Springboro, OH
Posts: 5,104
Default

I would think "sleeping it off" in the back seat would make you less likely to get a DUI and be more comfortable, to boot.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 16 April 2014, 11:13 PM
A Turtle Named Mack's Avatar
A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
Join Date: 21 June 2007
Location: Marietta, GA
Posts: 21,444
Icon24

Quote:
Originally Posted by mags View Post
I would think "sleeping it off" in the back seat would make you less likely to get a DUI and be more comfortable, to boot.
I am pretty sure that if you have the keys, are drunk, and are in a functional car, you can be prosecuted for DUI, even if you are in the back seat. The idea is that you are in control. As a practical matter, I am sure it happens often enough that a person wakes up, feels better but is still drunk, and then tries to drive someplace.

That's the problem with the OP suggestion - if you are capable of disconnecting the battery, you should have no problem reconnecting the battery. It is only slightly harder to do than putting the key in the ignition.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 16 April 2014, 11:20 PM
jimmy101_again jimmy101_again is offline
 
Join Date: 29 December 2005
Location: Greenwood, IN
Posts: 6,429
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by A Turtle Named Mack View Post
That's the problem with the OP suggestion - if you are capable of disconnecting the battery, you should have no problem reconnecting the battery. It is only slightly harder to do than putting the key in the ignition.
Maybe that's the idea. If you are too drunk to disconnect (or reconnect) the battery then you'll get knocked on your butt when you go fiddling with something as dangerous as a car battery.

A car battery isn't that dangerous as long as you are careful, heck touching both battery posts isn't really hazardous. But working with a wrench, probably in the dark, while drunk and I'm sure a drunk can find a way to breach the skin and get a nice zap.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 16 April 2014, 11:30 PM
DrRocket's Avatar
DrRocket DrRocket is offline
 
Join Date: 03 February 2006
Location: Rosemount, MN
Posts: 2,071
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mags View Post
I would think "sleeping it off" in the back seat would make you less likely to get a DUI and be more comfortable, to boot.
A fellow I know tried this about 5 years ago. He pulled to the curb in a residential neighborhood, pulled the keys out of the ignition and put them in his pocket, crawled into the back seat and went to sleep. He was awakened a couple of hours later by a rapping on his window with a nightstick. Not good enough. He still ended up being charged with a DUI and getting the car towed. You have to be OUT of the car. Period.

I wonder if sleeping it off in the trunk would work?
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 16 April 2014, 11:31 PM
RichardM RichardM is offline
 
Join Date: 27 March 2004
Location: Las Cruces, NM
Posts: 3,841
Default

You won't get a shock from touching the battery. You might make a big spark by taking the positive post loose first and accidently touching the wrench to metal. It won't hurt you but it might scare you to death.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 16 April 2014, 11:50 PM
jimmy101_again jimmy101_again is offline
 
Join Date: 29 December 2005
Location: Greenwood, IN
Posts: 6,429
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichardM View Post
You won't get a shock from touching the battery. You might make a big spark by taking the positive post loose first and accidently touching the wrench to metal. It won't hurt you but it might scare you to death.
That first sentence needs a "usually" qualifier. Like I said, you can touch the battery posts without a problem and probably wont feel anything at all. But grab the battery cable near the clamp, right where the strands of wire from the cable poke out of the clamp and have one of those strands penetrate your skin (they are sharp little buggers) and suddenly "no affect" becomes a really big ouch. People are occasionally serious hurt by car batteries, it just takes a little doing for that to happen and a drunk is more than capable of that doing.

A quick google indicates that the web is about 10:1 saying that you can't get a significant shock from a car battery. However, all those posts assume the skin isn't breached. The electrical resistance of the human body is almost entirely in the skin. Get across the skin and a human is just a bag of salt water and is a pretty good conductor. Skin resistance is in the range of 500K ohms but breached skin can have basically zero resistance. Using a tissue resistance for hand to hand conduction of 500 ohms a 12v battery will give about 2.4 milliamps of current. You would feel that but probably just barely. Drop the resistance by having say hand to elbow conduction (again with breached skin) and the resistance is perhaps 50 ohms and the current 24 milliamps. That current level is enough to make it impossible to let go with the hand that is part of the circuit. (Resistance numbers from http://www.mpoweruk.com/shock.htm)
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 17 April 2014, 01:06 AM
diddy's Avatar
diddy diddy is offline
 
Join Date: 07 March 2004
Location: Plymouth, MN
Posts: 10,867
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
A fellow I know tried this about 5 years ago. He pulled to the curb in a residential neighborhood, pulled the keys out of the ignition and put them in his pocket, crawled into the back seat and went to sleep. He was awakened a couple of hours later by a rapping on his window with a nightstick. Not good enough. He still ended up being charged with a DUI and getting the car towed. You have to be OUT of the car. Period.
I have personal experience with this - I was told explicitly in a class that if you have the ability to control the car (even in potent) you can still be charged. If you are drunk you shouldnít be in your car unless you are in the passenger seat and somebody else is in control

Quote:
I wonder if sleeping it off in the trunk would work?
Doubt it. If you can get out of the trunk (which they could argue) the cops are going to argue that you can still drive away drunk. If you have potential control you can get picked up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by A Turtle Named Mack View Post
That's the problem with the OP suggestion - if you are capable of disconnecting the battery, you should have no problem reconnecting the battery.
Thatís correct. If the cops can argue that you are of sufficient state of mind to disconnect (BAL not withstanding), you could be in the state of mind to re-connect it. It would be seen as no different as sleeping it off with the keys - the vehicle is still under your control.

If you are drunk, the best advice is to sleep it off at a friends house or a motel where you are not near the car. That way the police canít argue intent as easily as if you were in the car.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 17 April 2014, 01:17 AM
Skeptic's Avatar
Skeptic Skeptic is offline
 
Join Date: 16 July 2005
Location: Logan, Queensland, Australia
Posts: 1,732
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mags View Post
I would think "sleeping it off" in the back seat would make you less likely to get a DUI and be more comfortable, to boot.
Not in Australia. If you have the keys, you are in control of the car. I think there is some state variations as to whether you are "operating" or "in control", but basically you're done if you get caught.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 17 April 2014, 03:23 AM
Singing in the Drizzle Singing in the Drizzle is offline
 
Join Date: 24 November 2005
Location: Bellingham, WA
Posts: 4,745
Default

This may depend on location, because I was told by a Washington State Patrol that it is not a DUI until they are on public roads. Of course police do not always tell the truth so I would need to look up the law.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 17 April 2014, 03:29 AM
A Turtle Named Mack's Avatar
A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
Join Date: 21 June 2007
Location: Marietta, GA
Posts: 21,444
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Singing in the Drizzle View Post
This may depend on location, because I was told by a Washington State Patrol that it is not a DUI until they are on public roads. Of course police do not always tell the truth so I would need to look up the law.
In many states, the traffic laws only apply on public roads. For instance, running a stop sign on a lane in a private parking lot cannot lead in those states to a ticket; however, if you run it and cause an accident, this will be taken as evidence of negligence. In those states, it is probably also the case that you can drive around drunk all you want so long as you stay on private property. But if you cause an accident, the police may gain jurisdiction, and particularly so if you cause injury.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 17 April 2014, 08:58 AM
SatansHobbit's Avatar
SatansHobbit SatansHobbit is offline
 
Join Date: 31 May 2006
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Posts: 3,733
Australia

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
A fellow I know tried this about 5 years ago. He pulled to the curb in a residential neighborhood, pulled the keys out of the ignition and put them in his pocket, crawled into the back seat and went to sleep. He was awakened a couple of hours later by a rapping on his window with a nightstick.
Well there's his problem, the police aren't stupid. Unless he's got bourbon cans strewn across his seat from the time when he stopped, or he had a good excuse for partying at that address and planned to kip in the car, he was obviously pissy driving beforehand to get there.

My experience is that the cops are reasonable if you're not trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

Anecdote time:
I was at Karri Valley Resort and about 4.30pm decided to go go get fuel since we we doing Augusta the next day. About 16k to Pemberton but the only petrol station closed at 5.00pm. So...I decided to try the next major town, Manjimup, 30k away. Alas I had to climb the Diamond Tree on the way (couldn't help myself) and ended up in Manjimup after all the petrol stations had closed, 8pm. No way to get back and no big towns near.


And my wages weren't in, stupid school finance officer had cocked up my holiday pay, so just to get some food I'd parked at the only ATM. Honestly there is absolutely nothing to do in Manjimup after 8pm, so I hit a 2ltr cask of vodka and cranberry juice that had been sitting in our car for months.

So cold, it was freezing that night, and I only dared run the heater or radio for 15 minute bursts lest I kill the car battery.

So the cops finally find me, 3.30am, and I was maggoted. I'd run out of vodka and cranberry, had keys to the car which was still parked outside of the ATM. I was done for all money, but they didn't do that, even though I told them the truth. They came back 15 minutes later with a blanket, and the same two cops came back, quarter to eight, with coffee, a ham and cheese croissant, and a breathalyser. before I turned the key

Unbeknownst to me, MrsHobbit had triggered an APB across the South West of W.A. when I hadn't come back, and perhaps they were relieved to have a successful result. Having the car keys on you if you're drunk and in your car? Just tell the truth, they'll know if you're lying.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 17 April 2014, 02:50 PM
UEL's Avatar
UEL UEL is offline
 
Join Date: 01 August 2004
Location: Ottawa/Fredericton, Canada
Posts: 8,481
Baseball

Quote:
Originally Posted by mags View Post
I would think "sleeping it off" in the back seat would make you less likely to get a DUI and be more comfortable, to boot.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
A fellow I know tried this about 5 years ago....He still ended up being charged with a DUI and getting the car towed. You have to be OUT of the car. Period.
Quote:
Originally Posted by diddy View Post
...I was told explicitly in a class that if you have the ability to control the car (even in potent) you can still be charged.
Way back when I was a young subaltern, I was tasked to be the officer who attended court proceedings whenever a soldier from my unit was in court. We had one soldier who was in court because he was caught "sleeping it off" in the back seat of the car. At that time, we thought he would get acquitted because he was not driving. Then we found out that in the early '90s there were two different charges. If you were driving the charge was "Operating a Motor Vehicle while Under the Influence...". If you weren't driving, it was called "Care and Control of a Motor Vehicle while Under the Influence..."

However, that was the point at which all difference ceased. Despite them being two different sections of the Criminal Code, the penalties etc were identical. Typically, one would be charged with both, then in the court, the Crown would stay one of the charges in favour of the other depending upon the evidence.

Anecdote time: In my hometown, there was a problem with the wording of the "Care and Control..." aspect of the code. There was nothing saying that you had to be in or near your car. So, if the police had to deal with you outside a bar, and you had a car key, and your car was in the parking lot, they would charge you (and part of the problem is that none of the charges stuck, but would force the Crown to sift through them looking for the ones that were within the spirit of the law). It got so bad that the car only had to be within the city to be charged. So many people started leaving their keys in the bushes, under their cars, hidden in the cars etc.

Anyways, it hit the news when they charged one student with "Care and Control" because he had a car key on them. Problem was, we were in Manitoba, and the car that matched that key was in Alberta. The newspaper had a heyday. The police Sergeant interviewed tried to defend it as being either a situation where the key might work in another car, or just exercising due diligence.

But in the end, whether it was this incident or the Crown telling the police to better focus, the number of cases of Care and Control decreased.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 17 April 2014, 03:59 PM
Alarm's Avatar
Alarm Alarm is offline
 
Join Date: 26 May 2011
Location: Nepean, ON
Posts: 5,025
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by UEL View Post

Anyways, it hit the news when they charged one student with "Care and Control" because he had a car key on them. Problem was, we were in Manitoba, and the car that matched that key was in Alberta.
If the car was in Alberta, they obviously didn't Care enough...
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 17 April 2014, 04:13 PM
A Turtle Named Mack's Avatar
A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
Join Date: 21 June 2007
Location: Marietta, GA
Posts: 21,444
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by UEL View Post
Anyways, it hit the news when they charged one student with "Care and Control" because he had a car key on them. Problem was, we were in Manitoba, and the car that matched that key was in Alberta.
World's ... Worst ... Pub Crawl!!!
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 17 April 2014, 04:18 PM
Hero_Mike's Avatar
Hero_Mike Hero_Mike is offline
 
 
Join Date: 06 April 2005
Location: Phoenix, AZ & Hamilton, ON
Posts: 7,265
Default

Anectdote time - my friend's father was charged with DUI (his second such offense) for sleeping it off in the front seat and behind the wheel. The judge told him that all he had to have done is get in the back seat of the car, but with him behind the wheel, there was the implication that it was his intention to drive, and when he was found, he was still over the limit as by roadside breathalyzer test.

I have debated the issue about keys in the ignition or not - I would imagine that there should be greater latitude to this depending upon weather. Sure, you might be sleeping off your intoxication, but you might not be so far gone not to know that it's below freezing outside and that you want to run the engine to warm up the car. I think that retreating to the back seat is indication enough that a person has no intention of driving.

How does that work in a 2-seater car or pickup truck?

Anyway - now for something more concrete. A 12V battery - regardless of what size - is not likely to give a person a shock. Take a 9V battery - touching it to your fingers does not cause a shock. Touching it to your tongue does - because the tongue is wet and its contact resistance is lower. I can't feel any sensation from a 9V battery and wet fingers, and I have never felt anything from 12V lantern, motorcycle, car, or truck batteries. I have frequently touched 24V DC - not from a battery but from a live power supply - and it was not enough to create any sensation, let alone a painful shock. It's all about contact resistance - and dry hands are typically high enough in resistance to not feel any sensation at those levels. My threshold was certainly met on 48V DC - the voltage used for telephone systems - that had a slight stinging sensation - not enough to instantly and instinctively drop the wire, but enough to notice it. People's experiences here vary, and there are going to be those that claim sensitivity both for fear of electricity, and for their so-called "expertise". My university roommate, also studying electrical engineering, claimed to be able to sense the "quality" of a 9V battery by using his tongue - and not just "dead" or "not dead", but its actual voltage level. Without knowing what to expect, he failed miserably in a "blind" test - claiming different voltage for the same battery when tested 3 times consecutively - so I don't put a lot of value in such claims of "expertise" when it comes to sensing voltage by touch.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 17 April 2014, 04:49 PM
RichardM RichardM is offline
 
Join Date: 27 March 2004
Location: Las Cruces, NM
Posts: 3,841
Default

Shoot, all us electrical engineers with experience know that to test whether or not a 120V circuit is live, you have to lick your fingers before touching it.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 17 April 2014, 04:58 PM
overyonder overyonder is offline
 
Join Date: 03 March 2010
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 1,988
Default

So what about unlocking the car, hiding the key in the bushes, and crawling back in to take a sleep it off?

OY
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 17 April 2014, 05:14 PM
Beachlife!'s Avatar
Beachlife! Beachlife! is offline
 
Join Date: 22 June 2001
Location: Lansing, MI
Posts: 27,881
Default

I have got an arc off a car battery before, I was not part of the connection, but I think it would have hurt had I been.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 17 April 2014, 05:16 PM
A Turtle Named Mack's Avatar
A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
Join Date: 21 June 2007
Location: Marietta, GA
Posts: 21,444
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by overyonder View Post
So what about unlocking the car, hiding the key in the bushes, and crawling back in to take a sleep it off?

OY
That will almost certainly protect you - though the details of local law may say otherwise.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
9-volt battery fire snopes Science 9 23 January 2014 07:19 PM
Battery vs. the floor snopes Automobiles 8 10 February 2011 06:14 PM
C battery and a stack of quarters = D battery snopes Science 4 14 January 2011 09:35 PM
Car starts without battery snopes Glurge Gallery 29 12 December 2008 03:28 AM
Foods to avoid to avoid yeast infections Algae Medical 13 07 September 2007 12:52 PM


All times are GMT. The time now is 02:36 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.