Can I get a DUI without driving?
I GOT A DUI, BUT I WASN’T DRIVING! After a few too many beers at the sports bar during the Ironbowl the other weekend you decide to do the right thing, not drive home…yet. You choose to take a nap in your car, sleep off some of the booze. You fall asleep – car keys in your hand, not in the ignition. A couple of hours later there’s a knock on the window and a flashlight in your face. The police officer has you get out of the car and do field sobriety exercises. He slaps the cuffs on you and takes you off to jail for DUI. You cannot believe it. You keep pleading with the officer that you weren’t even driving, but he tells you that’s not the law…so what is the law?
In Florida, you commit the crime of DUI if you are under the influence of alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances, to the extent your normal faculties are impaired while in actual physical control of the vehicle. Florida’s jury instructions define actual physical control as follows:
- Actual physical control of a vehicle means the defendant must be physically in [or on] the vehicle and have the capability to operate the vehicle, regardless of whether [he] [she] is actually operating the vehicle at the time.
As you can see, if you are in your car and have the capability to operate the vehicle, i.e. crank it up and put it in drive, you may be in actual physical control of your car for purposes of the DUI statute. Whether you are in actual physical control of the vehicle or not is ultimately a question for the jury, and in our scenario your lawyer could argue that you were not in a position to operate the vehicle because, for example, you were sleeping at the time.
Long story short, sleeping in your car instead of driving it home is a good idea. However, instead of sitting in the driver’s seat with your keys on you, maybe you want to take advantage of the back seat and lay down for your nap. If you have any questions about actual physical control give our office a call.
These are just a few things to consider with dealing with a DUI. If you have any more questions Contact me and we’ll discuss it in detail…