Florida’s ‘Actual Physical Control’ Law

By Jonathan Blecher on July 28, 2017

Most licensed drivers in Florida are well-aware of the fact that it’s illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, what many people do not realize is that they can actually be arrested, charged, and convicted of DUI even if they weren’t driving at all.

A person can be convicted of “driving under the influence” if they weren’t actually driving? Yes, it’s true. Under Section 316.193Driving Under the Influence, it says a person is guilty of DUI if he or she is “driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle” within the state of Florida and are under the influence of alcohol, or any chemical or controlled substance that impairs the person’s normal faculties.

The key words under Sec. 316.193 are “in actual physical control.” So, what does it mean to be not driving but in actual physical control of a vehicle? Here are some examples:

  • You are impaired, but not driving. Instead, you’re sitting in the driver’s seat of your parked vehicle with the keys in the ignition.
  • You are sleeping in the driver’s seat with the keys to the car on your lap, in your pocket, or in your purse on the passenger’s seat (within reach).

Often, a person will have a few too many drinks at a bar, nightclub, or friend’s house and they’ll walk back to their car. Knowing that they are “too drunk” to drive, the individual will climb into their car and “sleep off the alcohol” until the morning, or until several hours pass. In the person’s mind, they’re doing the responsible thing by not drinking and driving.

While this theory of sleeping it off seems to make sense, unfortunately, it can result in a DUI because the person is still considered to be in “actual physical control” of their vehicle. Meaning, nothing’s stopping the impaired person from changing their mind, and deciding to drive anyway, while he or she is still under the influence. At least that’s how law enforcement and our lawmakers see it.

Facing DUI Charges in Miami?

Were you arrested for DUI, even though you weren’t driving at all? If so, I urge you to contact my firm to discuss your defense options in further detail. Not only do I specialize in DUI defense, but I have defended more than 3,000 DUI cases, and I am a former prosecutor who is on your side! Contact me today to get started.

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