Can I be charged with DUI if I was not actually driving the car?
The short answer is – it depends. While most DUI's occur while an individual is actively driving a car, truck, or van, it is possible to get a DUI while not driving one of these vehicles. This can happen in mainly two ways. One is what is referred to as "actual physical control". The other is the possibility of getting a DUI in a vehicle other than a car, truck, or van.
What does "actual physical control" mean?
In Florida, you do not have to be actually driving an automobile to be charged with driving under the influence. A person may get a DUI if they are in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent their normal faculties are impaired. So what is actual physical control? Generally this is something just short of actually operating the vehicle.
How does the state prove that I was in actual physical control of a vehicle?
Proving actual physical control varies largely on the set of facts. Facts that tend to show actual physical control are being in the driver's seat, keys in the ignition or in one's hand, the car running with one's foot on the brake, or being passed out in the front seat with the keys within reach. The State will look at the facts to determine if they can prove actual physical control beyond a reasonable doubt.
How can I beat the charge?
In order to prove that you were in actual physical control of a vehicle, the state needs to show that you had the ability to simply turn the ignition and drive away. Whether you were in actual physical control or not is extremely fact specific—each case is unique. Some examples: If the keys are not in the ignition, but in a purse on the floor or on in the backseat, the state may not be able to prove that you were in actual physical control of the vehicle. Also, if you were not in the driver's seat of the vehicle, they may have difficulties proving actual physical control.
Can I be charged with DUI for driving things other than a car?
One can also get a DUI while operating other modes of transportation. One very popular way that is overlooked is a bicycle. While it seems counter-intuitive, courts have upheld convictions for DUI's on bicycles. Other things such as golf carts, lawn mowers, and mopeds may also be sufficient for the State to convict someone of a DUI. The key is where these vehicles are being driven. If you keep the golf cart on the course or the lawn mower in your lawn, you should be fine. It is when these things are taken on to a public street that gives rise to the potential for a DUI. Also, while boating and alcohol seem like they go together naturally, boating under the influence carries the same sanctions as a DUI.
How Soler & Simon can help you
The attorneys at Soler & Simon have extensive experience with actual physical control DUI cases. If you have been charged with driving under the influence contact us today at (941) 444-5128 for a free consultation and case analysis.