Most of us know that driving while drinking is a serious crime. But did you know you can be charged with a DUI even if your vehicle is not in motion? Sounds bizarre, but it’s true.

Trying to dispute a DUI charge can be a grueling undertaking. Finding the right attorney in Boca Raton is essential. Learn how you can stay safe and avoid an unnecessary situation, and find an experienced DUI attorney in Boca Raton who can help you.

I was parked. How did I get a DUI?

It’s likely that this has happened to you – you go out to bar to have a drink and end up having too much. Instead of driving home, you choose to “sleep it off” in your car. You head out to the parking lot to your car, get in, and start it up and get the air conditioning cranking. Next thing you know, you wake up to a police officer knocking on your window to cite you for a DUI. You’re probably wondering how this is even possible.

DUI stands for driving under the influence, specifically under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When we think of driving, we imagine ourselves cruising down the road. But in many states, a DUI can include operating a vehicle – that is, being in complete control of a vehicle – which doesn’t necessarily mean the car is moving.

Some states have rules in place to determine beyond a reasonable doubt whether or not a person charged with a DUI was actually in control of the vehicle even if it isn’t moving. A judge or jury will take into consideration a few key factors:

  • Where the car was
  • Where the driver was
  • Where the keys were
  • If the engine was running
  • If the driver was awake or asleep

Where the car was

A judge or jury is more likely to believe that a driver was not operating a vehicle if it is found parked in a driveway as opposed to finding the vehicle parked in someone’s front yard. Police officers can determine if a vehicle had been in motion prior to their arrival based on where they find the vehicle.

Where the driver was

Going back to the theory that a driver was trying to “sleep off” too many drinks, it is likely to be better accepted if the driver is found in, say, the back seat and not in the passenger or driver’s seat. A person cannot reasonably be determined to be in operation of a vehicle from the back seat.

Where the keys were

If the closer the driver is to starting the vehicle, the more likely he will be found to have been in control of the vehicle. So, going back to our theory, if the driver is found without keys, it is more likely to be determined that he was not in control of the vehicle. Since most cars need a key to start the engine, it would be nearly impossible for someone to drive without the keys.

Was the engine running?

If a drunk driver is found in a parked car with the engine running, he is just one step away from driving. The vehicle’s location and whether or not the engine is running are two key factors in determining if a driver was in control of a vehicle or not

Was the driver sleeping or awake?

Some states require that a driver be awake to be considered to have control of a vehicle. But other states claim that a sleeping driver in the backset is less likely to wake up and start driving compared to a sleeping driver in the driver’s seat. Again, in the latter scenario, the driver is just one step away from driving, and therefore being in control of the vehicle.

Find a DUI attorney who can help you make sense of these rules

If you feel you have been wrongly charged with a DUI, contact an attorney who can interpret Florida’s DUI laws. In Boca Raton, personal injury attorney Jeffrey A. Rosenberg, PLLC understands the hardships you face when charged with a serious crime such as DUI. With his more than 25 years of experience, Mr. Rosenberg can provide the representation and legal counsel you need during difficult times.

Mr. Rosenberg is an established attorney in Boca Raton, where he has practiced since 2004.