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Can you get a DUI without driving? Though it seems an oxymoron, the answer is yes. You'd be surprised how many drivers don't realize it could happen.

Consider the Florida man whose roommate objected to his choice of late-night music, so he took his tunes outside to listen to in his car. That turned out to be a big mistake. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI after deputies knocked at his window and decided to conduct a field sobriety test, which he failed.

Or the case of a North Carolina woman who was arrested at a fast-food joint after she was found asleep behind the wheel with the engine running. Or the New Jersey camper who was found passed out in the back of his pickup at a campsite and charged with DUI. Or farther afield, the Alaska man who was stuck in a snowdrift and found to have a blood-alcohol ratio more than four times the legal limit, or the Canadian man who was seen pushing his vehicle by deputies and subsequently failed a field sobriety test.

Tales abound across America of drivers who were found asleep in their vehicles, usually incapacitated, and were stunned to find a sheriff's deputy or patrol officer knocking at their door. Usually when confronted with a dazed driver who may quickly become belligerent, a field sobriety test is pretty much automatic. And then, often, it's into handcuffs and a trip to the calaboose. Some drivers, even then, don't realize why they've been busted.

"Actual Physical Control"

Florida lawyer David Haenel has defended many "DUI without driving" cases, including the man with the loud music and the complaining roommate, and says it's a common occurrence. A former state DUI prosecutor of the year who switched sides and now runs the site fightyourdui.com, Haenel says that drivers usually are convicted by the legal precept of "actual physical control" of any vehicle.

In the Florida case, the man had his keys in the ignition to allow his music to play. Some drivers found impaired in their vehicles have turned on their car for heat or AC, Haenel explains. Usually, such drivers are found asleep, but as their keys are in the ignition or on their person, they are found to have "actual physical control" in the eyes of the law.

"A person may be sitting in a vehicle and the keys may be in the ignition. They may have no intention of driving the vehicle, but the car is on," he says. Haenel says such laws are "uniform" across the nation.

Actual physical control, by definition, means the defendant must physically be in or on the vehicle and have the capability to operate the vehicle, regardless of if he or she operated the vehicle at the time.

Haenel says often drivers have no intention of driving, that they've either left a party or drinking establishment, realized that they are impaired and decided to sleep in their cars. Usually they're startled by an officer, who often will realize the driver is impaired and administer a field sobriety test.

If the driver refuses a breath or blood test, the same rules apply as for a regular DUI test. Often, a driver will lose their license for a period and be expected to attend DUI classes. A heavy fine is almost always levied, and a driver will face a hike in their auto insurance.

Haenel says if a driver has been proven to have actual physical control of a vehicle, he will often try to get surveillance video from the surrounding area in a bid to prove that a driver had no intention of driving, that they had been parked in the vehicle for several hours, which could show the driver had no intent to drive.

A simple way to avoid such charges, of course, is to not drink to begin with, or arrange alternate transportation or a designated driver. But Haenel says the best way to avoid an instance of DUI without driving is to "get rid of the car keys."

"They should put them underneath or on the passenger side tire, if they have a release for their trunk, that would be ideal. But most people don't think of that until they're in handcuffs."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Taryn J White
      • 2 Months Ago
      Because DUI arrests happen so frequently, DUI laws have also gotten very complex too. For finding possible ways of how to fight a DUI offense, FightDUICharges.com can help those who have been recently arrested for DUI charges learn what defense options they may have available which may benefit them.
      lil sam
      • 3 Months Ago

      my sister was driving, left with two men to get a chain because we were stuck, and she took the only key.  why was I charged with dui, how do I get it dismissed, and how do I retrieve my car?

      • 5 Months Ago
      • 5 Months Ago
      That is the key in tis case "keys". This is nothing new as most lawyers could have told you this 30 years ago. They keys in the ignition will get you a DUI.
      • 5 Months Ago
      My understanding of actual physical control would be that the car (engine) is running,not just the keys in the ignition.
      • 5 Months Ago
      Seems like nobody has anything good to say about their police dept. Here's my suggestion. Get A tee_shirt PRINTED. "I'D RATHER HAVE A SISTER WORKING IN A LAS VEGAS ***** HOUSE, THAN A BROTHER ON THE POLICE FORCE.
      • 5 Months Ago
      Policemen are not policemen anymore. They are Revenue men They look for ways to get money from their fellow man and woman and take pride in it. It must be genetic to want to do this as the rest of us see it as a job none of us would want. Spending the day not chasing crooks but drivers to make money for the state. Despicable!
      • 5 Months Ago
      its all bull **** the cops or bigger drunks than the people they nab its all about money
      • 5 Months Ago
      The people of communities whose officers have made such arrests need to remove their Police Chiefs and suspend officers involved for this discusting waste of public funds. These people also need to address the one or two finatic members of the their communites responsible for such waste, usually an out of control religious leader or closet alcholic mother. This enforcement truly borders on absurd.
      • 5 Months Ago
      Yea well, Cops need the money. So I'm going to fu-k my friend to gain a buck?!
      • 5 Months Ago
      "A simple way to avoid such charges, of course, is to not drink to begin with, or arrange alternate transportation or a designated driver." Or become a cop. Simply flashing your shield will send any investigating officer on his merry way. This will also work if you're stopped at a checkpoint. Or if you get pulled over for speeding or other traffic violation.
      Pit Bull
      • 5 Months Ago
      I have used the "sleep in your car" trick to sober-up before. It is actually the responible thing to do. Since I know that the WARRIOR CASTE (ie the cops) see themselves as a higher class of people because they get to carry a gun and a badge; I have HIDDEN my keys under my spare tire when doing such. Others have left their keys on the ROOF just because of this. Of course the better thing to do is just REFUSE to take the sobriety test...they CAN NOT make you.
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