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What is Physical Control?

Man behind wheel - physical control

Physical Control in DUI Case

As you already know, operating a vehicle while intoxicated is illegal; however, being drunk in a vehicle could also lead to a driving under the influence (DUI) arrest. Can you be convicted for “driving under the influence” if you aren't driving? In fact yes, police officers can arrest intoxicated people in cars, even if the vehicles aren’t turned on.

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Physical Control Definition

In Florida, under Section 316.193, an individual is guilty of DUI if they are in “actual physical control” of a vehicle. This law is why residents should understand the meaning of “actual physical control,” which gives cops the right to arrest those who are in physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated. What counts as physical control of a vehicle depends on the situation at hand.

What is “Actual Physical Control”?

Factors considered when determining “physical control” of a vehicle include:

  • If the driver is impaired, sitting in the driver's seat of a parked car with the keys in the ignition
  • If the driver is sleeping in the driver seat, keys within reach
  • Whether the car was moving at the time of the traffic stop
  • What part of the vehicle the person was in at the time of the traffic stop
  • Whether the car was on at the time of the traffic stop

There are other factors, but the basic idea is whether the intoxicated individual is capable and primed to move the vehicle.

Fighting Physical Control Arrests in Florida

Our DUI lawyers understand that responsible citizens may choose to sleep in their cars when they are drunk, without realizing that they could be arrested for physical control. While not every situation calls for a physical control arrest, officers may choose to make an arrest anyway; this is where our attorneys can help.

First Coast Criminal Defense is here to defend those arrested for driving while intoxicated, even if they were just sleeping in the driver’s seat. You may be unsure whether you were legally in control of your vehicle, but contacting a knowledgeable Jacksonville DUI attorney can help you determine the next steps.