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Can You Get a DUI When You’re Not Driving in Florida



Understanding DUI Laws in Florida

Florida has stringent DUI laws designed to prevent impaired driving and enhance road safety. However, many people are unaware that you can face DUI charges even if you are not actively driving. Understanding these laws is crucial for anyone who consumes alcohol and operates a vehicle.

Definition of DUI in Florida

In Florida, a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charge is not limited to driving. According to Florida Statute 316.193, you can be charged with DUI if you are in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. This means that even if your car is parked, you can still face DUI charges under certain circumstances.

What is “actual physical control” in Florida DUI cases? “Actual physical control” means having the capability to operate the vehicle, even if you are not driving.

Florida’s DUI laws are strict, and the penalties for being caught, charged, and convicted of drunk driving are severe. Multiple DUI offenses will increase the severity of these punishments. If you are arrested for an alcohol-impaired driving incident, it is critical to speak with an attorney immediately. A DUI arrest is a tricky predicament, but with the help of an attorney, it may be possible to secure the most favorable outcome.

Drunk driving is not tolerated in civil society due to its dangers. Drunk drivers put themselves, passengers, and others at increased risk for accidents that can cause debilitating injuries and death. This is why there are limits on how much alcohol can be in one’s system while operating a vehicle and why there are strict penalties for drunk driving.

Despite these laws, drunk driving remains a widespread problem in Florida and across the country. For instance, in 2017 alone, 5,125 drunk driving accidents were reported in Florida, resulting in 350 fatalities. Typically, when it comes to a DUI, the question of whether a person was driving at the time of the arrest is usually not asked or considered. It is often assumed that a driver sitting behind the wheel was operating their car at the time of their arrest if they are charged with a DUI. However, there are situations where a driver can still be arrested for a DUI even if they are not actively driving their vehicle.

For example, if you are sitting in the driver’s seat with your car’s keys in the ignition, even if you do not start the vehicle, you could be arrested for a DUI. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08% or more, that is enough to put you in handcuffs and behind bars. This is because the argument can be made that you were in a position to have control over your car. When your BAC is above the legal limit to drive, an officer that finds you in this position will treat your situation just the same as if you were driving your vehicle.

Understanding the nuances of DUI laws in Florida can help you avoid legal pitfalls. For instance, the concept of “actual physical control” can lead to DUI charges even if you are not driving. This term means that you have the capability to operate the vehicle, which can include scenarios such as:

  • Sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition: Even if the car is not running, having the keys in the ignition can be enough to be considered in control of the vehicle.
  • Sleeping in the car with the keys in your possession: If you are found sleeping in your car while holding the keys, you may be charged with a DUI.
  • Being in the car with the engine running: Simply having the engine running can be seen as having control over the vehicle.

These situations can lead to DUI charges because you are considered to have the potential to drive the vehicle while impaired. To better understand these laws and how they might affect you, it is advisable to consult with an experienced DUI attorney who can provide you with the necessary legal guidance.

For more information on DUI laws and how to defend your rights, you can explore our resources on DUI investigations and unlawful DUI stops. Additionally, understanding the concept of reasonable suspicion can help you navigate DUI laws more effectively.

What Constitutes “Actual Physical Control”?

Understanding DUI Laws in Florida

The term “actual physical control” is a key factor in DUI cases where the individual is not driving. Understanding what this term means can help you avoid legal pitfalls and make informed decisions.

Scenarios of Actual Physical Control

“Actual physical control” means that you have the capability to operate the vehicle, even if you are not driving. Some scenarios that may qualify include:

  • Sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition: Even if the car is not running, having the keys in the ignition can be enough to be considered in control of the vehicle.
  • Sleeping in the car with the keys in your possession: If you are found sleeping in your car while holding the keys, you may be charged with a DUI.
  • Being in the car with the engine running: Simply having the engine running can be seen as having control over the vehicle.

These situations can lead to DUI charges because you are considered to have the potential to drive the vehicle while impaired.

What is “actual physical control” in Florida DUI cases? “Actual physical control” means having the capability to operate the vehicle, even if you are not driving.

The concept of “actual physical control” can have significant legal implications. For instance, if you are found in a situation where you have the potential to operate the vehicle while impaired, you can face DUI charges. This is true even if you had no intention of driving. The law aims to prevent impaired individuals from being in any position where they might decide to drive, thereby ensuring public safety.

Understanding the nuances of this term can help you avoid unintended legal consequences. For example, if you plan to sleep in your car after drinking, it is advisable to keep the keys out of the ignition and preferably out of your possession. This can help demonstrate that you had no intention of driving.

Examples of Actual Physical Control

Let’s delve into some real-life examples to better understand the concept:

  • Example 1: John decides to sleep in his car after a night out drinking. He reclines the driver’s seat and falls asleep with the keys in his pocket. An officer finds him and charges him with a DUI because he has the potential to operate the vehicle.
  • Example 2: Sarah pulls over to the side of the road to take a nap after realizing she is too drunk to drive. She leaves the engine running to keep the air conditioning on. Despite her good intentions, she is charged with a DUI because the running engine indicates she has control over the vehicle.
  • Example 3: Mike is sitting in his parked car in a parking lot with the keys in the ignition but the engine off. An officer approaches and, noticing signs of impairment, charges him with a DUI under the premise that he could easily start the car and drive.

The legal consequences of being charged with a DUI while in “actual physical control” of a vehicle can be severe. Penalties may include:

  • Fines: These can range from $500 to $2,000 depending on the circumstances and whether it is a first or subsequent offense.
  • Imprisonment: Jail time can be up to six months for a first offense and can increase with subsequent offenses.
  • License Suspension: Your driver’s license can be suspended for up to one year.
  • Mandatory DUI Education Programs: Attendance in DUI education programs may be required.

These penalties can escalate if there are aggravating factors, such as having a minor in the vehicle or causing an accident. Understanding the gravity of these consequences highlights the importance of avoiding situations where you could be deemed in “actual physical control” while impaired.

For further insights into defending against DUI charges, you can explore our guide on prolonged detention dismissals and understanding reasonable suspicion in DUI stops.

Facing DUI charges without driving can still result in severe legal consequences. Understanding these potential penalties can help you grasp the seriousness of such charges.

Penalties for DUI in Florida

The penalties for a DUI conviction in Florida can include:

  • Fines: Ranging from $500 to $2,000, depending on the circumstances and whether it is a first or subsequent offense.
  • Imprisonment: Up to six months for a first offense, with increased jail time for subsequent offenses.
  • License Suspension: Your driver’s license can be suspended for up to one year.
  • Mandatory DUI Education Programs: Attendance in DUI education programs may be required.

These penalties can escalate with multiple offenses or if aggravating factors are present, such as having a minor in the vehicle or causing an accident. Multiple DUIs will increase the severity of these punishments.

What are the penalties for DUI in Florida? The penalties for a DUI conviction in Florida can include fines ranging from $500 to $2,000, imprisonment for up to six months, license suspension for up to one year, and mandatory DUI education programs.

Factors Influencing Penalties

Several factors can influence the severity of DUI penalties:

  • Blood Alcohol Content (BAC): A higher BAC can lead to more severe penalties.
  • Prior DUI Convictions: Repeat offenders face harsher consequences.
  • Presence of Minors: Having a minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense can result in additional penalties.
  • Accidents and Injuries: Causing an accident or injury while impaired can significantly increase penalties.

Understanding these factors can help you better prepare for the potential outcomes of a DUI charge.

Additional Consequences

Beyond the immediate legal penalties, a DUI conviction can have long-term consequences:

  • Increased Insurance Rates: A DUI conviction can lead to higher insurance premiums.
  • Employment Impact: Some employers may terminate or refuse to hire individuals with a DUI on their record.
  • Travel Restrictions: Certain countries may deny entry to individuals with a DUI conviction.
  • Reputation Damage: A DUI conviction can harm your personal and professional reputation.

These additional consequences highlight the importance of addressing DUI charges promptly and effectively.

When facing a DUI charge, understanding the legal process can help you navigate the situation more effectively. The process typically involves:

  1. Arrest: The initial arrest and booking process.
  2. Arraignment: A court hearing where you enter a plea.
  3. Pre-Trial Motions: Your attorney may file motions to suppress evidence or dismiss charges.
  4. Trial: If the case goes to trial, both sides present evidence and arguments.
  5. Sentencing: If convicted, the judge will impose penalties.

Each step of the process can be complex, and having an experienced DUI attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

For more detailed information on the DUI legal process, you can refer to our step-by-step guide.

Why is it important to understand the DUI legal process? Understanding the DUI legal process can help you navigate the situation more effectively and make informed decisions.

After an arrest for an alcohol-impaired driving incident, speaking with an attorney immediately can help you better manage your situation. A DUI arrest is not ideal and a tricky predicament for anybody, but with the help of an attorney, it may be possible to secure the most favorable outcome. In Florida, the Orlando DUI defense attorneys at Leppard Law can defend your rights while also fighting on your behalf to have your charges dropped or your penalties lessened.

Having a skilled DUI attorney can provide several advantages:

  • Expertise: An experienced attorney understands the nuances of DUI laws and can provide effective defense strategies.
  • Negotiation Skills: Your attorney can negotiate with prosecutors to potentially reduce charges or penalties.
  • Representation in Court: A lawyer can represent you in court, ensuring your rights are protected.
  • Guidance: Your attorney can guide you through each step of the legal process, reducing stress and uncertainty.

For more information on how to defend against DUI charges, you can explore our guide on how to beat your DUI case.


Defending Against DUI Charges When Not Driving

Being charged with a DUI when you’re not driving can be complex, but there are defense strategies that can be employed. Knowing your rights and the possible defenses can help you navigate the legal process more effectively. Here, we’ll explore some common defense strategies and how they can be used to challenge DUI charges in Florida.

Common Defense Strategies

When facing DUI charges without driving, several defense strategies can be utilized:

  • Challenging the notion of “actual physical control”: One of the most common defenses is to argue that you were not in actual physical control of the vehicle. This might involve proving that you were not in a position to operate the vehicle, such as being in the back seat or having the keys stored away from the ignition.
  • Questioning the accuracy of the breathalyzer or field sobriety tests: Breathalyzers and field sobriety tests are not infallible. Factors such as improper calibration, maintenance issues, and operator error can lead to inaccurate results. An experienced DUI attorney can scrutinize these aspects to challenge the validity of the test results.
  • Proving that you were not in a position to operate the vehicle: This defense involves demonstrating that you had no intention or capability to drive the vehicle. For instance, if you were sleeping in your car with the engine off and the keys out of reach, you might argue that you were not a threat to public safety.

What is “actual physical control”? Actual physical control means having the capability to operate the vehicle, even if you are not driving. This can include sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition or sleeping in the car with the keys in your possession.

These defense strategies require a thorough understanding of DUI laws and the specific circumstances of your case. Consulting with an experienced DUI attorney can provide you with the best defense options tailored to your situation.

Challenging the Notion of “Actual Physical Control”

In DUI cases involving “actual physical control,” the prosecution must prove that you were in a position to operate the vehicle while impaired. This can be a complex issue, as it often involves interpreting the specific circumstances of your situation. Some key points to consider include:

  • Location of the Keys: If the keys were not in the ignition or within easy reach, it may be argued that you were not in control of the vehicle.
  • Vehicle Condition: If the vehicle was inoperable or parked in a manner that made driving impossible, this can be used as a defense.
  • Intent to Drive: Demonstrating that you had no intention to drive, such as by being in the back seat or having made arrangements for alternative transportation, can strengthen your defense.

Challenging the notion of “actual physical control” can be a viable defense strategy. Proving that you were not in a position to operate the vehicle can help in getting the charges reduced or dismissed.

Questioning the Accuracy of Tests

Breathalyzers and field sobriety tests are commonly used to determine impairment, but they are not without flaws. Several factors can affect the accuracy of these tests:

  • Improper Calibration: Breathalyzers must be regularly calibrated to ensure accurate readings. If the device was not properly maintained, the results may be unreliable.
  • Operator Error: The accuracy of field sobriety tests depends on the officer’s training and experience. Mistakes in administering the tests can lead to false positives.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or acid reflux, can affect breathalyzer results. An experienced attorney can argue that these factors led to inaccurate readings.

By questioning the accuracy of these tests, your attorney can cast doubt on the prosecution’s evidence and potentially weaken their case. For more information on challenging DUI evidence, you can explore our guide on how to beat your DUI case.

Proving Lack of Intent to Drive

Proving that you had no intention to drive is another effective defense strategy. This can involve demonstrating that you took steps to avoid driving while impaired, such as:

  • Sleeping in the Back Seat: If you were sleeping in the back seat with the keys stored away, it can be argued that you had no intention to drive.
  • Arranging Alternative Transportation: Showing that you had called for a taxi or ride-sharing service can support your claim that you did not intend to drive.
  • Vehicle Condition: If the vehicle was parked in a manner that made driving impossible (e.g., blocked in by other cars), it can be used as evidence that you had no intention to drive.

Proving lack of intent to drive requires careful documentation and a thorough understanding of the circumstances surrounding your case. Your attorney can help gather the necessary evidence and present a compelling argument in your defense.

Proving lack of intent to drive can be an effective defense strategy. Demonstrating that you took steps to avoid driving while impaired can help in getting the charges reduced or dismissed.

For more information on defending against DUI charges, you can refer to our comprehensive guide on DUI defenses in Florida.

Can You Get a DUI When You're Not Driving in Florida

In conclusion, defending against DUI charges when not driving involves understanding the concept of “actual physical control,” questioning the accuracy of tests, and proving lack of intent to drive. These strategies require a thorough understanding of DUI laws and the specific circumstances of your case. Consulting with an experienced DUI attorney, such as those at Leppard Law, can provide you with the best defense options tailored to your situation. Remember, a DUI charge is a serious matter, and having skilled legal representation can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.


Infographic depicting the words Can You Get a DUI When You're Not Driving in Florida

Can you get a DUI in Florida if you are not driving?

Yes, you can get a DUI in Florida even if you are not driving. According to Florida law, you can be charged with a DUI if you are in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while impaired. This means that even if your car is parked, you can still face DUI charges if you have the capability to operate the vehicle.

What is “actual physical control” in a DUI case?

“Actual physical control” means having the capability to operate the vehicle, even if you are not driving. This can include scenarios such as sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition or sleeping in the car with the keys in your possession.

What are the penalties for a DUI in Florida?

The penalties for a DUI conviction in Florida can include:

  • Fines ranging from $500 to $2,000
  • Imprisonment for up to six months
  • License suspension for up to one year
  • Mandatory DUI education programs

These penalties can escalate with multiple offenses or if aggravating factors are present, such as having a minor in the vehicle or causing an accident.

How can I defend against a DUI charge if I wasn’t driving?

There are several defense strategies you can use to challenge a DUI charge if you weren’t driving:

  • Challenging the notion of “actual physical control”: Prove that you were not in a position to operate the vehicle.
  • Questioning the accuracy of tests: Scrutinize the accuracy of breathalyzer or field sobriety tests.
  • Proving lack of intent to drive: Demonstrate that you had no intention or capability to drive.

Consulting with an experienced DUI attorney can provide you with the best defense options tailored to your specific situation. For more strategies, explore our guide on how to beat your DUI case.

Top-Rated DUI Lawyers Serving Florida

Looking for the best DUI lawyers in Florida? Our distinguished team of attorneys is committed to offering you the best possible defense against your DUI charges.

  • John Vallillo: As a stalwart in the Florida legal scene, John Vallillo has earned his stripes through a consistent record of case dismissals and proactive defense. His background as both a prosecutor and defense attorney enriches his strategic defense planning with invaluable insights.
  • Joe Easton: Renowned for crafting winning defenses, Joe Easton’s approach to legal advocacy in Florida combines thorough preparation with aggressive representation. His notable recognitions and ratings stand testament to his exceptional service and client-focused approach.
  • Joel Leppard: Joel Leppard infuses every DUI case with a level of personal commitment and innovative thinking that sets him apart. His leadership has not only grown Leppard Law into a top-rated criminal defense law firm but also ensured that clients receive empathetic, effective legal care.

Discover What Our Clients Are Saying

At the forefront of our DUI practice is a deep-seated commitment to client satisfaction. Each case is handled with utmost care, as echoed in the appreciative feedback from those we represent. Stellar reviews are what make us one of Central Florida’s top-rated DUI law firms. You can read more 5-star reviews here.








Contact Leppard Law: Your Trusted DUI Defense in Florida

Facing a DUI charge can be overwhelming, especially when you weren’t even driving. At Leppard Law, we understand the complexities and nuances of DUI laws in Florida. Our experienced attorneys are here to provide you with the personalized legal defense you deserve.

What does it look like to have a personal relationship with your attorney? Someone who has your back when things get tough? A lawyer that knows you as well as they know your case? At Leppard Law, we treat our clients like family. We always put their best interests first and fight for the best possible outcome for their case.

But you don’t have to take our word for it – experience it for yourself. If you or a loved one have been charged with a DUI or any other criminal offense, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Our top-rated criminal defense attorneys are ready to provide the support and legal expertise you deserve.

Leppard Law has been honored with numerous awards that reflect our dedication to excellence:

  • Named as one of “Top Criminal Defense Lawyers in Orlando, FL” 2023 (Expertise)
  • Highlighted among the “Top DUI Attorneys near Deltona, FL” for 2023 by Thumbtack
  • Listed among the “Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in Melbourne” from 2016-2023 by Expertise
  • SuperLawyers “Rising Star” 2019-2020 – Selected by peers for outstanding legal performance
  • Awesome Attorneys Orlando 2019-2023 – Recognized by Orlando Family Magazine and legal peers

At Leppard Law, we take immense pride in helping our clients navigate through some of life’s most challenging moments. Your trust and support have fueled our commitment to excellence, and we’re honored to be a part of our shared community. While we hope you never face a criminal charge, we want you to know that if the need arises, we’re here for you.

One call to our top-rated criminal defense attorneys can make all the difference. Schedule your consultation today, and let us provide the support and legal expertise you deserve.

Contact Leppard Law: DUI Attorneys

407-476-4111

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Legally Reviewed by Joe Easton

Experienced Florida DUI Attorney

Legally reviewed by Joe Easton and the content team, this article reflects the firm’s 60 years of combined criminal defense expertise. Joe Easton, with his extensive experience and strategic prowess in DUI and criminal defense, offers more than just legal representation; he brings a commitment to turning legal challenges into triumphs. His approach, combining tenacity in the courtroom with personalized client care, ensures your DUI case is not just defended but championed with dedication and expertise.

Learn More About Joe Easton