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DUI Charges In Florida: What Is “Actual Physical Control” Of A Vehicle?


It is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence. You can be arrested and charged with a DUI if you are caught driving a vehicle or if you are found in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while intoxicated (Florida Statutes § 316.193). In other words, you could still technically be charged with a DUI in Florida even if no officer ever observed you driving. In this article, our Orlando DUI defense attorney provides a more detailed explanation of Florida’s actual physical control standard for drunk driving charges.

Florida Law: Actual Physical Control is an Immediate Ability to Operate a Vehicle 

Most DUI arrests involve a defendant pulled over while they are driving by a local or state law enforcement officer. However, an intoxicated person may also be arrested for and charged with a DUI in Florida if they are found behind the wheel of a parked car. This could occur in many circumstances. Florida law requires prosecutors to prove one of two things to get a DUI conviction:

  1. The defendant was caught driving the vehicle was under the influence; or
  2. The defendant was in actual physical control of the vehicle while under the influence.

Florida law defines the term “actual physical control” as the immediate ability to operate a motor vehicle. Evidence of actual physical control can come in several forms. Often, it means that the impaired person was found in the driver’s seat. Another key piece of evidence will be the location of the keys. Police officers will also look for anything that demonstrates intent to drive.

You Can Defend Yourself Against a DUI Charge Based on Physical Control 

Drunk driving charges filed on the grounds of actual physical control are complicated. By definition, these cases involve police and prosecutors bringing charges even though the defendant was never actually seen driving the vehicle. Indeed, prosecutors may have little evidence of actual use or intended use. You have the right to defend yourself against an actual physical control DUI charge.

The specific facts of the case always matter—especially when the drunk driving charges are based solely on alleged physical control of the vehicle. A thorough investigation is always required. An experienced Orlando DUI defense lawyer will be able to review the charges, the evidence, and help you devise a comprehensive defense strategy focused on getting justice. 

Call Our Orlando, FL DUI Defense Lawyer for Immediate Help With Your Case

At The Baez Law Firm, our Orlando criminal defense attorney is an aggressive advocate for justice. With a national reputation for success, you can rely on Jose Baez for strong legal representation. If you or your loved one was arrested and charged with a DUI for being in physical control of a vehicle, we can help. Contact us today to set up a strictly confidential consultation. With an office in Orlando, our criminal defense firm handles DUI cases in Orange County and throughout Central Florida.



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