Why Was I Charged with DUI When I Wasn’t Driving?

We know that you can be arrested if you’re driving while intoxicated (DUI). But did you know you also can face charges even if there is no proof of driving?  

Attorney Ben Stechschulte explains what happens when you aren’t driving but are charged with a DUI. In a case such as this, you’ll need an experienced DUI lawyer to defend you. You have too much on the line to risk it. 

Key Takeaways 

  • Possession of keys — in a pocket or the vehicle’s ignition — signals intent to drive. The intent is what law enforcement will argue for the arrest. 
  • Sleeping in parked car? Police can still charge you with DUI. 
  • After a DUI, you risk losing your license, payment of significant fines, and possible jail time. You also have a short time to try to avoid some of these penalties. An experienced DUI lawyer can help explain the unique defense for your case.  

Driving Under the Influence 

Any DUI conviction can have serious consequences, including loss of driving privileges, astronomical fines, and even jail time.  

Being In Control of the Vehicle 

Being “in control” of the vehicle means that you physically have the power to operate the vehicle. If you are in a parked car and have the keys in your pocket, it can result in DUI charges — even though you aren’t driving.  

A large part of a DUI determination is whether you had the intent to drive the vehicle. Let’s say you are getting into your car under the influence, but you are not yet driving. A police officer stops you. You are considered to be in control of the vehicle with the intent to drive — even if you haven’t put the keys in the ignition.  

Instances of DUI with No Proof of Driving 

Parked Vehicle  

Many people assume that because their vehicle is parked, they cannot be arrested. This is not the case.  

If you are in a parked vehicle and are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, police can determine that you are “in control of the vehicle,” and you will be arrested.  

Keys in the Ignition 

If the police presume that you are in control of the vehicle and intend to drive, they can arrest you. Having the keys in the ignition, whether or not your car is running, can be a reason for the arrest.  

Sleeping it Off  

In Florida, you can be arrested if you are sleeping in your vehicle and have a blood-alcohol content of more than 0.08%. If you are suspected to be under the influence of a substance such as marijuana or cocaine, police can arrest you with a BAC of 0.00%  

Florida’s implied consent law states that if a law enforcement officer suspects you of being intoxicated while you are operating or in control of a motor vehicle, they have the right to order blood, urine, or breath tests.  

Never sleep it off in your car. Get someone to drive you home or call an Uber/Lyft. If not, be prepared to call a DUI attorney.  

Penalties for a DUI When Not Driving  

The penalties for a DUI with no proof of driving are the same as the DUI conviction that you would receive if you were driving. In Florida, you will likely lose your license and pay hefty fines. The amount that you will pay is based on your BAC at the time of the arrest and whether this is your first DUI offense.  

If this is not your first DUI arrest, the penalties will be sizable — even though you were not driving.  

DUI Defense Strategies  

These possible defense strategies can be used to help get your charges reduced or even dismissed.  

Defense #1: Proving You Were not in Control of the Vehicle  

If you were inside your vehicle but not in possession of your keys, it can be hard to prove that you were in charge of the car or had the intent to drive.  

For example, if you are intoxicated and are sitting in your car, but a friend or family member has your keys, then they will likely be the one considered to have been in control of the vehicle — not you.  

Defense #2: Proving You Didn’t Have the Intent to Drive  

Another defense is to show that you did not have the intention of driving. This is possible even if you have the keys to your car in hand at the time of arrest. If you were outside the vehicle and had the keys in your pocket, it can be a challenge to prove that you were going to drive.  

Additionally, the farther you were from your vehicle at the time of arrest can play a significant role in this defense.  

If You Are Stopped by the Police  

Remain silent if you are arrested for a DUI but were not driving. Ask for a lawyer immediately. As soon as you do, you will not have to answer any questions, and the police must allow you to have an attorney present.  

if police continue questioning you after you ask for legal representation, anything you say will not be allowed as evidence in court. This is a violation of your rights.  

Never say that you were going to drive but decided against it. Admitting that you were thinking about driving is enough to argue that you had the intent to drive. Evidence like this can be damaging to your case in court if it makes it into the police report. Say nothing, but respectfully ask for a lawyer. 

Hire a DUI Attorney  

If you have been charged with a DUI with no proof of driving, call Stechschulte Nell Law immediately. Your best chance at overcoming a DUI with no proof of driving is to hire criminal defense attorney Ben Stechschulte, who has handled countless DUI cases with positive outcomes for his clients. In some cases, he can even get your charges dismissed.  

If you are charged with a DUI, do not wait. Call Stechschulte Nell Law Firm today, (813) 280-1244. 

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