Jeffrey Gerber claimed that he was sleeping in his car in a tavern parking lot because he “did not feel like himself” and turned on the vehicle’s engine to stay warm. Millville Police Officer Nelson Ferrer said that although he did not observe Gerber enter or move the vehicle, he found him “slumped over the steering wheel” and that Gerber “appeared passed out.”
The Cumberland County Superior Court, Law Division, affirmed the municipal court’s finding that Gerber was guilty of driving while intoxicated. The court observed that a person can “operate” a motor vehicle within the meaning of the statute “even though actual driving is not observed.” The Appellate Division, in today’s decision, affirmed Gerber’s conviction.
One of the factors the court considered was that Gerber “was not in a reclined position, indicative of sleeping but was ‘slumped forward over the steering wheel indicating that he had lost consciousness almost immediately.” Perhaps those who want to sleep it off after a hard night’s out should recline in the passenger seat rather than the driver seat. More information about similar cases can be found here.