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What happens to a driver arrested for DUI while asleep in a lawfully parked car in Florida?

An arrest for DUI is a warrantless seizure, but it must be supported by evidence sufficient to justify the intrusion of a driver's privacy rights under the Florida Constitution. Driving under influence charges usually arise when the cops see a bad driver on the road. But what happens to a driver arrested for DUI while asleep in a lawfully parked car in Tampa Florida? The answer is complex, but simply put: The officer must use the "community caretaking function", to justify a vehicle intrusion. The officer must claim the interests of the driver's safety warranted the interaction with the driver.

Source: Hans FLW Supp 2304 (Cir Court Nov 2015).

charged with a DUI if I was asleep in a parked car

What happens when a sleeping driver's DUI arrest is not justified by the "community caretaking function"?

Search and seizure laws apply to DUI investigations in Florida and throughout the United States. The legal term for events surrounding a DWI / Driving under influence is "Detention". To detain a driver, the officer must have "reasonable suspicion" to bother the driver. Frequently we see cases where the soon-to-be defendant has done the right thing (almost), and pulled over to take a nap in a legal parking space. Where the driver is found asleep, in a lawfully parked vehicle, the cop must have more to justify further investigation.

Cops cannot just open the vehicle door, take the keys from defendant's hand, and wake up the dozing driver. Cops must try to arouse the driver. Perhaps a simple polite knock on the door or window is necessary. If they just open the door and enter, the detention of the DUI defendant is unlawful. At least one court has ruled that a DWI officer's conduct was not justified by the "community caretaking function". This cop never tried to wake the driver, opened the door, and did nothing to "indicate concern for defendant's safety or to determine if she needed assistance." The case was thrown out when a Fourth Amendment motion to suppress was granted.

Source: Hans FLW Supp 2304 (Cir Court Nov 2015).

 

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