In the state of Florida, you may be arrested for a DUI even if you aren’t seen driving or even sitting in a vehicle. The law states that a person may be found guilty of DUI if they were actually driving or if they were in physical control of a vehicle.
In order to have “physical control” of a vehicle, it means that the person must be inside the vehicle and have the ability to operate it, regardless of if they are doing so at the time.
What Does the Law Say about DUI?
Whether or not a person is considered in control of a vehicle will be determined by the circumstances at the time of the alleged DUI. During the State v. Jones trial, the court created a list of three different factors that are considered:
- If the person has a constructive or active possession of the vehicle’s key or proof that the vehicle is able to be operated with no key.
- If the defendant is actually in the driver’s seat.
- If the vehicle is operable, to a certain extent.
The fact is, Florida courts have determined that just standing in front of a vehicle at the scene of an accident and gathering the registration or other documents from that vehicle is enough evidence to determine actual physical control. The court also determined that having paperwork and a wallet in the vehicle are enough of a fact to prove that the person was in or drove the vehicle and had the ability to be in control of the car.
Examples of Control of a Vehicle in DUI Cases
There are cases seen in Florida courts all the time related to determining whether or not someone was in control of a vehicle. For example, in the State v. Walsh, the person was the only one at a crash scene. The individual was standing right next to the door on the vehicle’s driver’s side with the car keys within reach. This fact, along with the fact that the car was registered to the defendant, was enough to determine that they were in physical control of the vehicle.
What Does All This Mean for a DUI Charge?
What this means is that you can be arrested and face DUI charges even if you were not actually driving the vehicle when you were stopped by the police. It also means that you don’t have to actually be inside of the vehicle to be considered guilty of the DUI. These extremely strict DUI laws are just more reasons to avoid drinking and then driving on Florida roads.
What To Do If You Face DUI Charges
If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, the best thing you can do is to call an attorney right away. They can help to protect your rights in these situations. If you need more information or have questions, call the criminal attorneys at the Law Office of Paul J. Donnelly, P.A. by calling 305-757-3331.