Can you be arrested for DUI after the fact?

consequences of multiple dui convictions_lockett

Can you be arrested for DUI after the fact?

Many people believe that if they manage to drive home safely under the influence, they’re in the clear. However, Florida law allows law enforcement to arrest you for DUI even after the fact, under certain circumstances.

The Elements of a DUI Charge

To secure a DUI conviction in Florida, the prosecution must prove the following elements:

  • You were driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle [Florida Statutes § 316.193(1)(a)]
  • You were under the influence of alcoholic beverages and/or chemical or controlled substances to the extent that your normal faculties were impaired, or you had a Breath or Blood alcohol level above the legal limit. [Florida Statutes § 316.193(1)(a)]

What is Actual Physical Control of a Motor Vehicle?

Florida law defines actual physical control as having the immediate ability to operate a motor vehicle. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Physical in or on the Vehicle: The person must be physically present either inside the vehicle or have immediate access (such as being right next to it with the keys).
  • Capability to Operate: There must be a demonstrable capability to operate the vehicle. This doesn’t necessarily mean being sober, but rather having the physical ability.

Examples of Actual Physical Control (According to Case Law):

  • Sleeping in the driver’s seat with the engine running
  • Being in the passenger seat of a car as the sole occupant with the keys in the ignition
  • Sitting in a parked car that is not running, but the keys are within reach
  • Being in a moving car that is not your own, but you are behind the wheel

Examples that are Not Considered Actual Physical Control:

  • Being asleep in the back seat of a locked car: No immediate ability to operate the vehicle.
  • Being a passenger in a car driven by someone else: No control over the vehicle’s operation.
  • Being outside of a car, even if you own it and the keys are nearby: Without being in or near the driver’s seat, there’s no evidence of immediate ability to operate.

Florida takes a broad view of “actual physical control” in DUI cases. If you are in or around a vehicle and have the ability to operate it, you could be charged with DUI even if you weren’t actively driving.

DUI After the Fact

While less common than a traditional DUI arrest during driving, arrests for DUI after the fact can and do happen. Here’s how:

  • Law enforcement investigation: If the police are investigating an accident (hit and run, property damage, etc.) and have probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence, they can arrest you for DUI even if you’re no longer at the scene or behind the wheel. This can only happen however if the police have a “wheel witness” and probable cause that your normal faculties are impaired.
  • Witness testimony: Witness statements about your erratic driving behavior before you arrived home can be used as evidence for a DUI arrest.
  • Blood Test Results: If you were involved in an accident and received medical attention, a blood test may be drawn. If the results, which can take some time, reveal a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of a .08 or above, you can be charged with DUI later

Important Florida DUI Statutes

Defending Against a DUI Charge

Being arrested for DUI after the fact can be stressful. An experienced Jacksonville DUI defense attorney, such as Lee Lockett, can help by:

  • Challenging the probable cause for the arrest.
  • Raising questions about the accuracy of witness statements or blood test results.
  • Negotiating with the prosecutor for reduced charges.

Find a DUI Defense Lawyer in Jacksonville, FL

In Florida, and particularly in Duval County with Jacksonville’s bustling traffic, a DUI charge can have severe consequences that extend far beyond a suspended license and fines. Not only could you face jail time, but a DUI conviction can also impact your employment, insurance rates, and even your ability to rent a car. If you are facing a DUI arrest in Jacksonville, don’t underestimate the seriousness of the situation. An experienced Jacksonville DUI defense lawyer like Lee Lockett at Lockett Law can be a powerful advocate on your side. Lee understands the intricacies of Florida DUI law and has a proven track record of success in protecting his clients’ rights and futures. Don’t hesitate to contact Lockett Law today for a consultation and let our experience work for you.