You can get a DUI for sleeping in your car in Florida if you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is a common question, as many people will go to their cars after a night out to ‘sober up’ or rest.
Here’s how the law works in Florida for a DUI for sleeping in a car and how you can defend yourself if you’ve been arrested:
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DUIs for Sleeping in Your Car in Florida
“A person is guilty of the offense of driving under the influence and is subject to punishment as provided in subsection (2) if the person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle within this state”
This means if you were found by a police officer to be under the influence of alcohol or influence of drugs and in ‘actual physical control‘ of the vehicle, then you can be arrested for a DUI.
A law enforcement officer will determine if you are driving under the influence by studying your behavior, asking you to provide a breathalyzer test or performing field sobriety tests such as walking in a straight line or following their finger with your eyes.
Read Related: Should You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Florida?
What Does ‘Actual Physical Control’ Mean?
Being in ‘actual physical control‘ means the vehicle is ready to be driven at any moment. It’s about having the ability or intention to drive.
So, if the keys were in the ignition, in your hand, pocket, wallet or within reach, then it would be determined you were in ‘actual physical control’ – even if you were asleep.
The penalties for a DUI in this scenario are the same as if you were actually driving the vehicle.
Don’t understand why? Consider it from the police’s perspective – how do they know that you didn’t drive to your parking spot drunk?
Can and Should You ‘Sober Up’ in Your Car in Florida?
No. Claiming that you were ‘sobering up’ in your vehicle can still result in a DUI arrest.
While it may seem wise to get in your car rather than drive, the best thing to do is not enter your car at all. Never drive while drunk.
Plan in advance by parking in a place where overnight parking is allowed. Take a taxi service or ride-sharing service. Uber, Lyft and other services have made ride-sharing far easier and cheaper in recent years.
What Is the Florida ‘DUI’ Limit?
- If you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) or breath alcohol content of 0.08% or higher, you are considered under the influence.
- You may also be considered under the influence if your ‘normal faculties’ are impaired – even if your BAC is under the limit.
- For under 21 drivers, the BAC limit is just 0.02%.
- Commercial drivers of any age have a 0.04% BAC limit.
Read related: If I’m Stopped for a DUI, What Should I Do?
DUI Penalties in Florida for Sleeping in Your Car
If you’re arrested and convicted of a DUI for sleeping in your car in Florida, you could face:
Penalties for a First-Time DUI Offense
- Maximum of 6 to 9 months in jail
- Between $983-$2,000 in fines
- License suspension of up to 1 year
- A mandatory interlock ignition device for BAC above .15
- An ignition interlock breathalyzer device is installed on your motor vehicle.
Read Related: How Does a DUI in Florida Affect My Job Or My Future?
Second and Third-Time DUI offenses
If a second conviction occurs within 5 years of the first, or a third conviction within 10 years of the previous, then penalties increase.
- Up to 1 year in jail
- $5,000 in fines
- License suspension for up to 10 years
Do You Have to Be in the Driver’s Seat for a Sleeping in the Car DUI?
This is a gray area. The DUI law is determined by ‘actual physical control’ of the vehicle. So some people think they can sleep in the back seats.
It will likely vary on a case-by-case basis, such as where the driver was sleeping, where their keys were located and where they were parked. In any case, it is advised not to risk it.
How to Defend a Sleeping in the Car DUI in Florida
Defending a sleeping in a car DUI in Florida will vary with each case. These examples below do not guarantee a defense but have been used by defendants to prove their charges should be dropped or penalties minimized.
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Florida, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to clear your name from these charges.
The Keys Weren’t Near You
If the keys were in the glove compartment or center console and clearly you were not ready to use them, then it could be argued that you were not in actual physical control of the vehicle.
You Take Medication That Makes Your Drowsy
If you take medication that makes you drowsy, you could argue that you fell asleep in the parked car when you only intended to be there for a brief moment.
You Were Protecting Yourself
If there was severe weather, such as a storm or heat wave, then you may have taken refuge in your parked car to stay dry or use the AC.
Women may also go to their vehicles to stay safe from drunk men who are bothering them or posing a threat.
You Were Parked on Private Property
If you were parked on your driveway or private parking spot, then you may have had no intention to drive the vehicle but were cleaning it or looking for something.
Common Examples of ‘Actual Physical Control’ in Drunk Sleeping Cases:
Here are some common examples of how someone could be arrested for a DUI for sleeping drunk in their vehicle:
- A man spends the night drinking in a bar. When he gets to his car, he realizes he is too drunk to drive safely, so spends the night in his driver’s seat. He left the keys in the ignition.
- A woman does her grocery shopping which includes the purchase of an alcoholic beverage. When she gets to her car, she drinks some before having a nap. The keys were in her hand.
- A man drinks wine at a restaurant while on vacation. He believes he’s safe to drive but after 10 minutes of traveling realizes he is drunk. He pulls over and falls asleep to ‘sober up’. The keys were in his wallet.
Contact a DUI Defense Attorney in Florida
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI in Florida, then our DUI defense lawyers DUI defense attorneys can help. Our Florida criminal defense attorneys can fight on your behalf to help you avoid jail time and avoid a criminal record.
Jesse Morse is a top-rated criminal defense attorney in Pinellas County. He is a lawyer at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., one of Tampa Bay’s most prestigious law firms with the reputation and connections to make things happen.
Contact us today for a free consultation to get started or CALL (727) 381-2300