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Why was Tiger Woods arrested for DUI if he wasn't drunk?

Golfing legend Tiger Woods was found asleep in his Mercedes Benz on Memorial Day. He wasn't far from his home in Jupiter, Florida. Instead of waking him up and sending him on his way, however, local police asked him to perform field sobriety tests, which he failed. He was arrested for DUI.

Later, however, the news came out that he had taken two Breathalyzer tests -- both read 0.00. He also passed a urine test for alcohol. The star has insisted from the beginning that he wasn't drinking, but admitted he had been unfamiliar with the effects of his prescription medication.

He wasn't driving. He wasn't drunk. How could he be DUI?

A lot of people find this surprising, but DUI arrests of people who aren't driving happen all the time. Under Arizona law (and across the United States), an intoxicated person in "actual physical control" of a vehicle can be charged with DUI even if they weren't driving. In Arizona, the phrase "actual physical control" simply means the person could drive the vehicle -- they have the keys and access. Under the Arizona case of State v. Zaragoza, it doesn't matter that the person never even intended to drive.

Unfortunately, it's pretty common for people who have been drinking to try to avoid a DUI by pulling over and taking a nap in the back seat. This is a mistake because it leaves them in actual physical control of the vehicle. They do the right thing and end up arrested anyway.

Florida's DUI law is different. Florida courts gauge "actual physical control" based on the circumstances, such as whether the person was in the driver's seat with the keys be in the ignition. Woods' attorney should investigate the exact details of Woods' arrest.

Another surprising fact for many people is that someone could be arrested for DUI when the problem was a legal pharmaceutical medication. Arizona's DUID statute, however, applies to both legal and illegal drugs. If you're found to be impaired by a legal prescription drug, you could be considered to be driving under the influence of drugs. This is the case in Florida, as well.

The point is that you can be arrested for DUI even when you weren't drunk and you weren't driving. However, as always, there are real defenses available. You should never just plead guilty to DUI -- hire a lawyer and save yourself a lot of trouble.

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