In Florida, in order to be charged with DUI, a person does not necessarily have to be driving the vehicle while impaired from alcohol or drugs. It is sufficient under the Florida DUI laws for a person to be in actual physical control of a vehicle. For instance, if the defendant was impaired while in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition, this is sufficient for actual physical control even if the vehicle was in park and not moving.
In another recent DUI case near Jacksonville, Florida, a police officer responded to a call of a possible impaired driver and saw the defendant exit his vehicle from the driver’s side door with the keys in his hands. After administering field sobriety tests to the driver, the police officer arrested him for DUI. The criminal defense lawyer moved to have the DUI case thrown out arguing that the defendant was neither operating the vehicle nor in actual physical control of the vehicle. However, the court disagreed and found that the evidence that the police officer observed the defendant exit the driver’s side door with the keys was enough to establish actual physical control of the vehicle under the Florida DUI laws.
Clearly, the courts in Florida may interpret “actual physical control” very broadly under the DUI laws. If you have been drinking and are impaired, the best thing to do is to avoid your vehicle altogether.