Florida man arrested for DUI in jail parking lot

A Florida man made headlines across the nation recently when he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in the parking lot of the Pasco County jail.

The 29-year-old man was arrested on January 12 in Land O'Lakes, Florida, after he was allegedly found passed out in his vehicle, NBC News reported. According to the allegations, the keys to the vehicle were in the ignition and the radio was turned on.

The arrest report indicates that jail staff woke the man up by pounding on the vehicle's window and placed him under arrest after observing an open container of beer and a strong smell of alcohol in the vehicle. The man allegedly admitted to having had a couple of beers and said that he had been dropping a friend off at the jail. NBC reports that the man was arrested and booked at the jail after refusing to take a breath test.

Valuable lessons to learn from the case

This story provides a valuable illustration of several key points for Florida drivers to keep in mind in order to help minimize their chances of being arrested and prosecuted for driving under the influence:

  • You can be arrested for DUI in Florida even if you are not driving. The Florida DUI statute provides that a person can be charged with DUI if he or she is "in actual physical control of a vehicle" - which does not always mean driving.
  • It is illegal to drink in the car in Florida. Regardless of whether your blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds the legal limit for DUI, you can still face criminal charges if you are found with an open container of alcohol in your vehicle. Thus, when it is necessary to transport open containers of alcohol by car, be sure to keep them in a locked non-passenger area of the vehicle, such as the trunk.
  • Remember your rights - and exercise them. If you are arrested for drunk driving in Florida, remember that your constitutional rights entitle you to remain silent and get help from a DUI defense lawyer. Although you may feel tempted to answer police questions and try to explain yourself right away, there is a good chance that any attempt to do so will only make the situation worse. Instead of talking to police yourself, tell them politely but firmly that you won't answer any questions until your attorney is present.
  • You cannot be forced to take a breath test. In Florida, law enforcement officers are not permitted to physically force drivers to take a chemical test when they are suspected of driving under the influence. Although refusing a breath, blood or urine test in Florida does carry certain negative consequences, including harsher license suspension requirements, in some cases it may also help improve your chances of avoiding a DUI conviction.

Call a lawyer if arrested for DUI

If you are arrested for suspected DUI in Florida, calling a skilled criminal defense lawyer at your earliest opportunities is one of the most important steps you can take to help protect your legal rights and minimize the negative consequences of the arrest.

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