Is It Still DUI If The Car Is Off and/or Parked?
DUI does not refer to strictly driving. Just being in the driver’s seat while impaired — even if the keys are off — can still be considered DUI.
Central Florida DUI Defense Attorneys at The Defense Group have vast experience in DUI defense. If you have any questions, and would like to discuss your case, contact them today at 407 743 8430 or 407-250-9557 for a FREE CONSULTATION.
“The first misconception is to think that DUI means drunk driving. You do not have to be drunk to be guilty of DUI. You don’t even have to be “driving.” You merely have to be driving a vehicle or in physical control of it, when your faculties are impaired by alcohol or any of a number of illegal drugs. That includes when your vehicle is parked with the engine off, keys in your pocket or in the ignition, and even if you are sound asleep. That’s still DUI. You’re in physical control of that motor vehicle. If you do that at a point in time when you are impaired from either alcohol or any of the several hundred drugs that are in our statutes, then you are chargeable with DUI.
What is “impaired?” If you blow over a .08 on the breath test, then you’re presumed to be impaired as a matter of law. If you don’t blow over a .08, they’ve got to prove that you’re “impaired.” The way they typically do that is by asking you to take some “field sobriety exercises.” They start to make observations as soon as they stop you.
Suppose they stop you for a tail light out. They walk up to the window, the officer in his report says, “I noted the strong odor of the impurities of an alcoholic beverage coming from his face. His eyes were bloodshot and watery. His speech was slurred. He was fumbling. He couldn’t get his wallet out. He dropped his driver’s license.
I asked him to step out of the vehicle, he fell on the ground.” All of those observations are intended to show that you’re “impaired.” They ask you to do a series of field sobriety exercises, which, by the way, you should never, ever, ever do, and then they write down what they consider clues of impairment from watching you do those things. If they’re able to demonstrate in their mind that you’re impaired, they arrest you. I would tell you this: in my experience, if it’s late at night and you’ve got alcohol on your breath and you’re behind the wheel of a car and you’re alive, you’re going to jail for DUI.
You may or may not be convicted, but that’s pretty much the litmus test. In terms of what’s actually being prescribed, don’t drive when you’re impaired. The simple answer to that is: don’t drink and then drive.”
A few pointers if you are stopped when you have been drinking:
- Have your license, registration and insurance ready to present to the officer;
- When the officer approaches, lower your window just enough to provide these documents to the officer.
- You woke up this morning with the “Right to Remain Silent”—Use it!!
- Do not get into any conversation with the officer.
- If the officer asks ANY question, politely and soft spokenly advise the officer that you never speak to police without an attorney.
- Do not permit the officer to either threaten you or cajole you into answering questions. Even innocent sounding questions like “Is this address on your license still correct” are potential problems. Do not answer!
- *** You can order from our offices a business card that you can hand to the officer advising him that you have an attorney and that you are declining to say anything at all until after you have had the chance to confer with your lawyer. That way, the officer will not hear you speak and cannot testify that your speech was slurred.
- If the officer orders you to roll down your window (remember—you have been drinking and the odor is in your car), politely decline. You are not going to talk with him or her. Why does he need your window down?
- If the officer orders you to roll it down, comply.
- When the officer asks if you will perform some Field Sobriety Exercises, politely refuse. The officer may persist and suggest that you can be punished for refusing to take his field exercises. Still refuse (politely.)
- Talk as little as possible and walk as little as possible.
- If you are arrested, go quietly.
- When you get to the police station (or breath testing facility) there will be cameras recording you. Take a seat as soon as you can, and sit steady.
- When offered the breath test always take the test. Failure to do so can result in a long license suspension and for a subsequent refusal you may get up to a year in jail.
Once you are released from jail, your next move is to contact one of the experienced DUI defense attorneys with The Defense Group.