Some people in Florida believe they are only at risk of a DUI arrest if they are caught driving on the public roads by a police officer while impaired from alcohol or drugs. That is not true. A person does not even need to be driving to be arrested and convicted of DUI. The Florida driving under the influence statute confers criminal liability on anyone who is driving while impaired from alcohol or drugs or in actual physical control of a vehicle while impaired from alcohol or drugs. We have dealt with many cases where a person was arrested for DUI while resting or sleeping in a vehicle that is not even running. The state can move forward with a DUI case in that situation if the suspect had the keys to the vehicle and it was capable of being driven, even if the keys were not in the ignition at the time.
Additionally, a police officer can initiate a DUI investigation when the suspect is on private property, as opposed to driving on the public roadway, in some situations. In a recent DUI case just south of Jacksonville, Florida, witnesses observed the suspect crash through the barricade at the entrance to a private parking garage and proceed to park inside. The witnesses called the police, and a police officer found the suspect in the parking garage. He initiated a DUI investigation and ultimately arrested him for DUI. The criminal defense lawyer moved to dismiss the DUI charges because the incident took place in a private garage.
Florida law is not exactly clear as to a police officer’s authorization to detain, investigate and arrest someone for DUI inside a private garage or other private property. It is certainly possible that if all of the events of this incident occurred within the confines of the private property, the police officer would not be authorized to conduct a DUI investigation. However, in this case, the defendant crashed through the barricades at the front of the property from a public roadway and proceeded into the private garage. Additionally, the driver did not pay to enter private garage as patrons were supposed to if they wanted to lawfully use the garage. The court found that this was sufficient to allow the police officer to conduct a DUI investigation and ultimately make the DUI arrest. Had the defendant entered the garage appropriately and shown signs of impairment once inside, perhaps by hitting a parked vehicle inside, it is not clear if the police officer would have been permitted to conduct a DUI investigation at that point.