Defense lawyers are up in arms over a recent Appellate Division ruling on whether falling asleep behind the wheel counts as driving drunk, saying it tramples years of precedent and potentially contradicts the state Supreme Court.

The lawyers say intent has been a key factor when determining if a person sleeping behind the wheel can be charged with drunken driving, meaning it’s not a crime if the person has no intent of driving away. But the Appellate Division ruling from Feb. 10 in State v. Thompson said intent is proved when an intoxicated person, awake or sleeping, is found behind the wheel of a car with the engine running.

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