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DUI with Actual Physical Control in Florida

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs cases can be charged and prosecuted even when the person arrested was not actually driving the vehicle. The concept of “actual physical control” is one of the most confusing aspects of DUI cases in Florida. It is important to understand the concept of actual physical control. Law enforcement officers sometimes affectionally call these cases “parking while impaired.”

So what happens if an officer finds you sitting in your vehicle? Under limited circumstances, the officer can ask you to exit the vehicle and begin a DUI investigation even if the officer never saw you driving. Despite the fact that these cases are common, prosecutors usually have a more difficult time proving these cases at trial. Motions to suppress and exclude evidence because of an illegal detention or arrest are more common.

The attorneys at Pumphrey Law have years of experience defending clients in DUI cases throughout North Florida. Our attorneys can help you protect your rights while fighting for the best possible resolution in the case. Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free case evaluation. Pumphrey Law represents individuals charged with drunk driving throughout Tallahassee in Leon County and the surrounding areas such as Bristol in Liberty County, Crawfordville in Wakulla County, Monticello in Jefferson County and Quincy in Gadsden County.

Pumphrey Law represents individuals charged with drunk driving throughout Tallahassee in Leon County and the surrounding areas such as Bristol in Liberty County, Crawfordville in Wakulla County, Monticello in Jefferson County and Quincy in Gadsden County.


Information About Actual Physical Control Laws


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What Does Actual Physical Control Mean?

Actual physical control is a term used in Florida law meaning the person must be physically in or on the vehicle and have the capability to operate the vehicle, regardless of whether he or she is actually operating the vehicle at the time. If a person is found to be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that person could face DUI charges.

For example, if an intoxicated person is sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle with the keys to the vehicle either in the ignition or within the easy reach of the driver, the prosecutor might be able to establish that the driver was in actual physical control of the vehicle.

This term often applies in DUI cases when a driver pulls over to “sleep off” the intoxication. If the person remains in the driver seat, he or she again could be considered in actual physical control of the vehicle, whether or not the vehicle was turned on.


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Proving Actual Physical Control in DUI Cases

For actual physical control cases, the prosecutor often has a difficult time convincing the jury to return a guilty verdict. It sometimes can be difficult to prove the accused was in actual physical control of the vehicle. Factors examined by the courts include the following:

  • whether other evidence shows the defendant drove the vehicle to that location or planned to drive away from that location;
  • whether the keys were in the engine;
  • whether the engine was running or still warm;
  • whether the lights were on inside the vehicle;
  • whether the driver’s foot was on the break or gas pedal;
  • whether the driver tried to put the car in drive;
  • whether the defendant’s rear end was sitting in the driver’s seat; or
  • whether the seat was reclined or upright.

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Finding A Tallahassee Lawyer for Actual Physical Control DUI Cases

If you have been charged with a DUI for being in actual physical control of the vehicle, contact the skilled and experienced DUI defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law. DUI convictions can have a lifetime of consequences even after the criminal case is resolved in court. Whether you are charged with a first offense or have a prior, we can help.

We help clients charged with DUI after a breath, blood or urine test. We also fight cases involving a refusal to consent to testing.

Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free legal case evaluation.


This article was last updated on Tuesday, January 29, 2019.