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Tampa Family Lawyer > Blog > DUI > Drunk Driving Charges In Florida: Understanding ‘Actual Physical Control’

Drunk Driving Charges In Florida: Understanding ‘Actual Physical Control’


It is well known that drunk driving is against the law. A driver whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above 0.08 may face serious criminal charges. What is much less well known is that you can be arrested and charged with a DUI even if no officer ever actually saw you operating a moving vehicle. This is because Florida uses the “actual physical control” standard to determine if a person was driving. In this blog post, our Tampa DUI defense attorney explains the most important things to understand about the element of actual physical control.

A Person in Physical Control of a Vehicle is “Driving” for the Purposes of DUI Law 

As a starting point, it is important to emphasize that Florida’s DUI statute prohibits an intoxicated person from operating a motor vehicle. The law defines the operation of a motor vehicle as being in actual physical control of it. The Florida DUI statute technically does not require any movement by the vehicle. It also does not require the vehicle to be on a public road.

Immediate Ability to Operate is Control of a Vehicle in Florida

Under Florida Statutes § 316.193, a person is guilty of a DUI if they are intoxicated and are “driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle.” The state defines the term actual physical control as possessing the immediate ability to operate a motor vehicle. It is a somewhat broad definition. As a result, police officers may arrest a person for a “no driving” DUI in a number of circumstances.

Some Examples of “No Driving” DUI Charges in Florida 

A “no driving” DUI is a term sometimes used to describe drunk driving charges that were filed against a person even though no law enforcement officer ever actually witnessed them driving a car that was in motion. Here are some examples of circumstances that could lead to a no driving DUI:

  • A vehicle was involved in an accident, but by the time police arrived the defendant was no longer in the car;
  • An intoxicated person was found sitting in the driver’s seat of a car, but the vehicle was parked; or
  • An intoxicated person was found sleeping in the driver’s seat of a car or found sleeping in another part of the vehicle with evidence that the car recently moved.

These are complicated cases. You have a right to defend yourself against a DUI charge filed on the grounds that you had “actual physical control” over a vehicle. A Tampa, FL DUI defense lawyer will help you devise the best strategy to protect your rights.

Get Help From Our Tampa, FL DUI Defense Lawyer Today 

At Faulkner Law Group, PLLC, our Tampa DUI defense attorney has the professional expertise that you can count on. If you or your loved one was arrested for a DUI and ‘actual physical control’ is an issue in your case, we can help. Give us a call now or connect with us online to arrange your no cost, fully private initial consultation. With a Tampa office, we defend drunk driving charges in Hillsborough County and throughout the surrounding region.



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