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taking his car key from the table
30 Dec
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  • December 30th, 2023

Can I Be Charged with a DUI if I Wasn’t Driving?

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that comes with severe consequences. Most people are aware that operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can lead to a DUI charge. However, what many may not realize is that in some situations, it is possible to be charged with a DUI in Florida, even if you weren’t actually driving. In this blog post, we will explore the laws in Florida surrounding DUI charges when the defendant was not driving.

1. Actual Physical Control

In Florida, you can be charged with a DUI if you are found to be in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while under the influence, even if you were not actively driving at the time. Actual physical control means that you are in a position to operate the vehicle and have the capability to do so, even if the vehicle is not in motion. This broad definition allows law enforcement to charge individuals who are intoxicated and have the potential to start the vehicle and drive.

2. “Keys in the Ignition” Rule

Florida’s “keys in the ignition” rule is a common scenario where individuals can be charged with a DUI, despite not actively driving. If you have the keys in the ignition, even if the engine is not running, you can still be considered in actual physical control of the vehicle. This means that if you are found sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition while intoxicated, you can be charged with a DUI, even if you were not driving or intending to drive.

3. Other Factors Considered

In addition to the “keys in the ignition” rule, several other factors may be considered when determining if you were in actual physical control of a vehicle. These factors include whether the vehicle was running, whether the vehicle was parked in a legal parking spot, whether the headlights or other controls were activated, and whether the driver exhibited any signs of impairment, such as slurred speech or difficulty maintaining balance. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors will evaluate these factors on a case-by-case basis to determine if a DUI charge is warranted.

4. Penalties for DUI Convictions

If you are charged and convicted of a DUI in Florida, the consequences can be severe. The penalties for a DUI vary depending on the circumstances, including any prior DUI convictions and the level of impairment. Penalties can include fines, license suspension, mandatory participation in alcohol education programs, probation, community service, and even jail time. It is essential to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney if you are facing DUI charges, as they can help navigate the legal process and work towards minimizing the potential consequences.

5. Defenses for DUI Charges

Just because you were charged with a DUI does not mean you are automatically guilty. There are several defenses that can be used to challenge DUI charges, including disputing the officer’s observations, challenging the accuracy of field sobriety tests, questioning the reliability of breathalyzer or blood test results, and contesting the legality of the traffic stop. An experienced DUI defense attorney will thoroughly examine the details of your case to determine the best defense strategy. They will work to protect your rights and help achieve the best possible outcome.


While driving under the influence is the most commonly known form of a DUI offense, it is possible to be charged with a DUI in Florida, even if you were not driving at the time. Florida’s laws regarding DUI charges when the defendant was not driving focus on the concept of “actual physical control” and the presence of key factors such as the keys in the ignition. If you are facing DUI charges, it is crucial to seek the guidance of a skilled DUI defense attorney who can help protect your rights and build a strong defense on your behalf.

Need an Attorney in Orlando, FL?

Guy H. Gilbert Law Office. has more than 27 years of experience handling criminal defense matters. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Emory University in Atlanta, then went on to earn his Juris Doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida. Guy has a thorough understanding of state and federal criminal law and is able to translate complex legal issues into easy-to-understand language. Working as a general criminal and DUI lawyer on behalf of clients in greater Orlando, he strives to provide the best legal representation in every case. Contact him today to learn more about what he can do for you!