Can I be stopped and arrested for DUI or DWI in Florida even if the vehicle was not moving?

Can I be stopped and arrested for DUI or DWI in Florida even if the vehicle was not moving?

Believe it or not yes you can. This is what’s called an “actual physical control” situation. In Florida, in order to be convicted of DUI, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were in actual physical control of a motor vehicle. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you were driving the vehicle while it was moving. There may be situation where someone says they saw you driving the vehicle before the police arrived. This is usually the situation where there is a crash and the police never saw you driving, but this isn’t what we mean by “actual physical control”.

In many instances, there was no crash or it was a single car accident (your car) and nobody saw you actually driving the vehicle. There may be instances where there was no crash at all. This is an actual physical control situation. What the court looks at is your ability to operate the motor vehicle. If you are behind the wheel with the keys in the ignition, you may be in actual physical control. If you are wondering around outside of the vehicle but the keys are in your pocket the court may say that you had the ability to operate the vehicle. There have been instances where people thought they should play it safe and decided to go to sleep in their parked vehicle rather than drive it. If you have access to the keys the court’s have said that you may be in actual physical control of the vehicle. Then it becomes a question for the jury as to whether you were actually “driving” the vehicle under the influence.

It’s important to contact an experienced DUI lawyer who understands the law as it relates to “actual physical control” if you think the State may have problems proving the “driving” element.

Written by

Ray Lopez has practiced since 1990, with prior experience as a Hillsborough County assistant State attorney and lawyer for the Tampa Police Department. He handles all criminal charges, from traffic violations and misdemeanors to serious felonies and federal drug charges. He practices in all state and federal courts of the Tampa Bay area and throughout Florida, as well as criminal appeals, juvenile court, administrative hearings, and civil forfeiture proceedings.

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