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Law School Case Brief

Jones v. State - 510 So. 2d 1147 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1987)


Three factors which may be relevant in determining whether an accused was in actual physical control of a vehicle include the following: 1. Active or constructive possession of the vehicle's ignition key by the person charged or, in the alternative, proof that such key is not required for the vehicle's operation; 2. Position of the person charged in the driver's seat; 3. A vehicle that is operable to some extent. 


Florida Highway Patrol officers found Jackie E. Jones slumped over the wheel of her car which was stopped on the shoulder of a public road. The driver had walked home and defendant had remained in the car to sleep. No breath tests were administered, but the officers determined defendant was under the influence of alcohol. Defendant was convicted of being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol pursuant to Fla. Stat. ch. 316.193 (1985). 


Does the state have to prove as an element of the offense that the vehicle was capable of immediate self-powered mobility?




The Court noted that Chapter 316.193 placed no burden on the state to prove the vehicle was capable of operation and it was inappropriate for a court to add the requirement for every prima facie case of a violation of the statute. Jones could have raised as a defense the fact that the vehicle was inoperable. Because Jones was in a vehicle that was found to be inoperable, she did not have actual physical control and the court ordered her discharge.

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