Can I Get a DUI for Sitting in a Parked Car While Drunk?
So you’re on the way home from a bar and realize that you’re a bit more tipsy than you initially thought. Rather than continue driving and risk getting a DUI or causing an accident, you decide to pull into the local Walmart parking plaza, recline your seat, and sleep it off. One would assume that this is the responsible thing to do, right? Well, not necessarily.
If a law enforcement officer finds you drunk in your vehicle, they can legally arrest you for driving under the influence of alcohol. However, they’ll need to prove much more than that you were drunk in your car to get their charges to stick.
What are Grounds for a DUI arrest in Florida?
Before we get into how the police can use the wording of the law against you, let’s review what actually constitutes a DUI arrest in Florida. For starters, anyone with a blood alcohol concentration percentage above the legal limit of 0.08% can be arrested for a DUI. The associated penalties are further intensified when one’s blood alcohol concentration is more than 0.15%.
When it comes to stopping a vehicle, the police officer must have reasonable suspicion. For example, anyone engaged in the following behaviors can be justifiably stopped for a possible DUI:
- Weaving in and out of lanes
- Driving with the car lights off
- Reckless driving
- Aggressive driving
- Ignoring traffic signals and traffic control devices
Once the officer makes a traffic stop, they can use factors like open alcohol containers in plain view, slurred speech, and unprovoked agitation to request that a driver take a breathalyzer test. If your BAC recording is above the legal limit, you can be arrested and charged with a DUI.
DUI Arrests for Being Drunk in a Parked Car
Being caught drunk in a parked car is a little bit different, since the officer never saw you actually operating the motor vehicle. This is why many people think they can avoid DUI charges, but what they fail to realize is that there are other factors at play.
While the officer can still use the presence of the aforementioned factors as grounds for a breathalyzer test, whether you were in “actual physical control” of the vehicle can be the difference between a justifiable arrest and you walking free.
How the Prosecution Will Prove a Parked Car DUI
The prosecutor in a parked car DUI case must rely on circumstantial evidence to get a DUI conviction. They will often have no choice but to present one of the following arguments to prove that the arrested individual is indeed guilty of a DUI:
- Actual Physical Control: Factors like the parking brake being off, the car keys in the ignition or within reach, and the car being in gear can all be used to prove that you were in actual physical control of the vehicle.
- Indications of Driving: An open car door and a warm engine are types of circumstantial evidence the prosecution will use to claim you were driving shortly before the officer found you.
- Attempted DUI: The arresting officer can say they watched you stumble out of the bar and attempt to drive drunk, but were unsuccessful.
Where the officer found you parked in your vehicle can also be used as evidence to prove that you were driving drunk. They can reference that you were double-parked, parked on the shoulder of the road, at an awkward angle, or any other suspicious observation to help their case.
The Action You Can Take to Protect Your Rights
The prosecution will stop at nothing to ensure that you end up behind bars. However, you have rights as the accused party that deserve to be upheld. Our team of defense lawyers has more than 100 years of combined experience, and we are qualified to serve as your legal representation.
Attorney Bradford Fisher served as the DUI specialists for the State Attorney’s Office prior to joining The Umansky Law Firm and now uses his expertise in the field to the benefit of his clients. Discuss your legal options today by calling us for a free case evaluation.