What are all the ways you can get a DUI in Florida even when you’re not driving?

An infographic explains that in Florida you can get a DUI while sleeping in your car. The photo shows a woman leaning forward, resting her hands and face on the steering wheel while she sleeps.Did you know you can get a DUI in Florida even when you’re not driving a car?


 You can get a Florida DUI for doing things such as:

  • Sitting in the driver’s seat of your parked vehicle, talking with friends
  • Sleeping in your car 
  • Eating in the front seat of your car

HOW can you get a DUI for DRIVING under the influence… when you’re not driving??

Florida’s DUI Statute:

Driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida is governed by Florida Statute §316.193. Under the statute, a person is guilty of DUI if these two criteria are met:

  • The person must be driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle within Florida, and;

  • The person is under the influence of alcoholic beverage or any chemical substance outlined in Florida Statute §877.111, affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired. 

Florida Law also outlines the level of toxicity found in a blood or breath sample that is the “legal limit.” For blood-alcohol, if you have over 0.08 grams of alcohol per 100 millimeters of blood, you are over the legal limit. If you have over 0.08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, you are over the legal limit. 


What’s the “problem” with the statute when it comes to your risk?

The problem here is that even if you weren’t actually driving a vehicle, you could be considered to be in “actual physical control of a vehicle,” which can still allow for you to be charged with a DUI. 


This means that you could be found to be guilty of Florida DUI even if you weren’t actually driving at the time officers came in contact with you. This could be a problem if you were actually trying to avoid driving while under the influence. If you had just wrapped up a night out with your friends and didn’t want to drive drunk, you may think that it’s safer to sleep in your car for a while, and then when you wake up, you’ll be good to drive.  If you were found sleeping in your vehicle while it was parked and the police thought that you may have been under the influence, however, they could still arrest you for DUI


Their reasoning for this comes from the first element of Florida’s DUI Statute: “actual physical control.” 

  • Under Baltrus v. State, a defendant can be found to be in “actual physical control of a vehicle” when there can be “a legitimate inference to be drawn that he placed himself behind the wheel of the vehicle and could have at any time started the automobile and driven away.”Baltrus v. State, 571 So.2d at 76. 
  • This means that if it were possible for someone to start the car and drive away, they could be found to have been in “actual physical control”, even if the car was off. Courts tend to look at factors like where the keys were, where the car was found, where the defendant was in the actual vehicle. 

The courts tend to analyze all of these factors together - no particular factor is more important than the other. So if the defendant was found behind the wheel, with the keys in the ignition, and the car was parked on a busy main street then it’s pretty likely the court would find that the defendant was in actual physical control. If the defendant was found in the backseat, however,  with the keys in the glove compartment, and the car was parked in a parking garage, it’s less likely that the court would find that the defendant was in actual physical control. There’s no guarantee that the court will find that you weren’t in actual physical control, but it’s clear how the second set of facts paints a better argument for the defense to make. 


How to protect yourself from getting a DUI even if you’re not driving:

Our best advice would be to go home - even if it means leaving your car behind. Call an Uber, Lyft, or cab company to bring you back to your residence and sleep there for the night. Ask a friend or family member to bring you back to your car in the morning. There’s little to no possibility of you getting a DUI if you’re safely at home at night (or in the day). Even in a worst case scenario of your car getting towed or getting a ticket, the cost of that is incomparable to the cost of a DUI, a DUI lawyer, and the impact it can have on your future and even career.


If you HAVE to sleep in your car, find a way to make it the best-case scenario if the police were to knock on your window in the middle of the night. Keep the keys as far away from the ignition and steering wheel as possible, in a secure place. Preferably, in the glove compartment or even the trunk if there is a way for you to access it there without getting locked out. If you have a purse or another bag, it would probably be even better to put it inside the bag, then put the bag inside another compartment. 


Sleep in the backseat; do not sleep in the driver’s seat with the chair leaned back. Sleeping in the backseat makes it less possible that you’ll be able to actually turn on the car and drive off at any particular time. 


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We’ve successfully handled a variety of DUI charges and cases and are confident we can give you the results and aggressive defense you deserve and need to protect your liberty. 


We offer a FREE strategy session to new clients interested in discussing the details of their case so you know how we plan to get the best possible outcome for you and your case.  


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