Once upon a time, back in the olden days…When ordering a PBR at the bar wasn’t a novelty. When cars started with keys, not buttons. Back in those days, it seems we’d hear stories of a buddy who got too drunk to drive and did the right thing by leaning back the car seat and sleeping it off. Then we’d hear about the cop who tapped on the window, talked to your buddy, then gave him a ride home. Or better yet, he followed him home! This stuff really did happen – but not so much anymore. Maybe it’s the fear of lawsuits, or maybe cops just want to get stats on arrests for a promotion or some award. Whatever the reason, sleeping in your car after drinking is a sure way to get arrested for DUI.
You may ask, how? Well, in Florida being charged with the crime of DUI doesn’t actually require you to be “driving” your car. It only requires you to be in something called “actual physical control” of your vehicle. To put that in layman’s terms, it means the ready ability to operate a car if you chose to do so. So even if you never intended to drive because you were doing the right thing, you can still be arrested for DUI.
And this is where hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney can help, because how you get woken up, what the police say to you, and everything that happens in that first conversation, may lead to what is considered an illegal seizure pursuant to the 4th Amendment to the Constitution. That, in turn, could lead to a dismissal of your case or a reduction of your charge, saving you jail time, money and very serious aggravation. There are numerous cases in the State of Florida discussing what the police can and cannot do when they approach a sleeping driver. Did the driver wake up due to the knock on the window, then roll back over and go to sleep? It matters. Was the car legally parked? It matters. Did the police turn on their overhead lights or order the person out of the car immediately? It matters.
These and many issues must be analyzed to determine if the police had a legal right to detain you, ask you to do field sobriety tests and to arrest you. This is why you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after you have been arrested.