Imagine having a few drinks, it’s late, you stagger to your car to
drive home. But as soon as you get in your vehicle, you realize that you
are too intoxicated to drive. So instead of taking off, you stay in your
car to sleep it off. Although it may seem like a good idea, it is important
to understand that it is possible to get arrested for a
DUI if you are sleeping in your vehicle.
According to Florida Statutes § 316.193(1), “a person is guilty
of the offense of driving under the influence and is subject to punishment…if
the person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle within
this state.” “Driving” is a common element in most DUI
cases, but Florida law also mentions “actual physical control”
to cover situations where driving has ceased, but evidence suggests that
the car was recently driven or is observed with the engine running.
So, in order to be charged with a DUI while sleeping in your vehicle, you
must have actual physical control over your vehicle. Judges, prosecutors,
and police officers determine actual physical control by how close you
are to the car’s ignition, as well as the position of your car keys.
For example, if you fell asleep in the driver’s seat with the keys
still in the ignition and the car is running, it is likely that you had
physical control over the vehicle since you could just wake up and drive.
Additionally, if you were found on the side of a road or highway, the
officer can deduce that you drove your vehicle prior to pulling over to sleep.
To make it difficult for law enforcement to allege that you were in actual
physical control of your vehicle, you can do the following things:
- Sleep in the backseat of the vehicle
- You have no access to the ignition key (i.e. locked in the trunk or in
the glove compartment)
- You are parked in a legal spot
Essentially, the farther away you and your keys are from the driver’s
seat and ignition, the better off you will be. If your attorney can show
the court that the State cannot prove any one element of a DUI charge
against you, then the entire case will be thrown out.
Stepniak & Park, we advise you avoid being involved in this type of situation. If you
ever find yourself too intoxicated to drive, consider requesting a ride
from an Uber or Lyft driver or contact a designated driver to pick you up.
If you have been arrested for a DUI,
request a free consultation with our Daytona Beach criminal defense attorney today.