Most Florida residents are familiar with the acronym “DUI” Driving Under the Influence. Many residents are also aware of the fact that the legally permitted blood-alcohol (BAC) percentage level while driving a vehicle is under the threshold of 0.08 percent. In other words, 0.08% BAC or above is deemed an offense.
However, Florida Statutes §316.913 – 2016 Florida Statutes paints a broader definition. The Statute criminalizes any individual in “actual physical control of a vehicle” while under the influence of any chemical mind-altering substance, or any controlled substance, to the extent that normal faculties are impaired. Drivers in Florida have been found impaired in their vehicles, with the car turned on for music, heat, air-conditioning, or while sleeping, because they are in actual physical control. Regardless of any intentions to drive, if an individual is physically in, or on a vehicle, and has the capability to operate the vehicle, they are in actual physical control in the eyes of the law.
I have had clients ask me, “Can I get a DUI on a bicycle or motorized scooter?” In Florida, that answer is yes. In Florida, “vehicle” is defined as “[e]very device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.” (For some of the more studious law-breakers out there, a word of caution—“highway” has a broad definition in Florida, including roadways “used for vehicular travel…”) In Florida, it may be situation-dependent, but numerous cases involving bicycling under the influence have been prosecuted under traditional DUI statutes.
It should also be noted that Florida has a Zero Tolerance law for drivers under the age of 21. This means that any driver under 21 that is stopped by a law enforcement officer and has a blood alcohol level of 0.02 percent or higher will face a Florida driver's license minimum suspension of six months, in addition to other potential penalties. Essentially, any alcohol consumed by a driver who is under 21 years of age can expose that driver to DUI penalties.
I will dive further into potential consequences later, but please be aware that all DUI's can carry severe life-altering penalties including jail time, fines, and license suspension.
If you are facing driving under the influence charges in the Daytona Beach area, please Contact Board Certified Criminal Trial Expert Larry Avallone, today, at 386-682-9235 to schedule a free consultation for your case.