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DUI Charges in New Port Richey “Parking”
Police in Pasco County made an interesting DUI arrest in New Port Richey this week. At about 2 a.m. on Thursday, an officer heard repeated honking from a parked car outside an auto body shop. The officer assumed it was an alarm and investigated.
No one was trying to steal the 2007 Suzuki SUV. The officer found Moises Gomez of Trinity in the car, having sex with an unidentified female. The car horn was being triggered by their movements.
The officer allegedly noticed signs that Gomez was intoxicated including slurred speech, watery, bloodshot eyes and the smell of alcohol on his breath. The car was parked. Gomez was technically behind the steering wheel and the keys were draped over the steering column.
Gomez apparently performed “poorly” on field sobriety tests and refused to submit to a breath test. Gomez was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence.
So, how can Gomez be charged with DUI if he wasn’t even driving? Under Florida law, driving under the influence can occur even if the car is parked. A Tampa Bay-area DUI defense attorney will have to assist Gomez in navigating this complicated area of Florida DUI law.
In general, the driver must be in actual physical control of the vehicle while intoxicated and can be charged even if the engine is turned off. The prosecutor may not even need to prove that the person behind the wheel of the car drove at all. There have been multiple cases in which someone was found “sleeping it off” with keys not in the ignition but was still charged and convicted of DUI.
Anyone charged with a non-driving DUI (or even a more “normal” DUI for that matter) should immediately contact an experienced Tampa Bay DUI defense attorney to investigate and handle the defense of the case.