Non-Automobile DUI: Other Motor Vehicles
Non-Automobile DUI: Other "Motor Vehicles" Overview
Thinking of having a few glasses of wine, grabbing your favorite golf clubs, and hopping into your golf cart? Think again. If you are operating the golf cart on a public road and you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you could be arrested and charged with a driving under the influence (DUI) crime.
Falling into another gray area of DUI law are types of motorized transportation that don't fit into the typical view of an everyday automobile. Some common examples of these are ATVs, pocket bikes (minibikes), golf carts, and other vehicles that aren't designed or intended for use on public highways. Below you will find information regarding nontraditional DUIs involving non-automobiles. For more information, see FindLaw's DUI section.
State Laws Surrounding Non-Automobile DUIs
Similar to the laws surrounding drunk biking, a good place to start in a non-automobile DUI case is with the laws of the state at issue. Some states create lists of "motor vehicles" that fit the definition under DUI laws, while others create definitions for those motor vehicles. The rules vary widely and it is best to consult your state's laws, but here are some examples of non-automobile vehicles which have been found to qualify as "motor vehicles" under various state DUI laws:
- all terrain vehicles (ATV's)
- riding lawn mowers
- pocket bikes
- golf carts
- construction equipment;
- a horse.
The last bullet point, a horse, isn't a typo. In the state of Kentucky, a man was charged with a DUI while riding his horse. Giddyup, but not while under the influence!
Therefore, a wide variety of vehicles that have motors, wheels, and are operated by human drivers can qualify as motor vehicles for purposes of drunk driving laws (including horses and horse-drawn wagons). Once sharing public streets and highways, the amount of horsepower, the speed, or the danger posed (or lack thereof) by the vehicles may play a very limited role as far as drunk driving laws are concerned.
Scooters are becoming more and more popular these days, especially as a more convenient and inexpensive alternative to owning an automobile. Having said that, if you drink alcohol and drive a motorized scooter, in many states you can be arrested and charged with a DUI or DWI. Why? Because electric or motorized scooters are heavier and will cause more damage if they happen to strike a pedestrian. So if you plan to drink alcohol or take drugs (legal or prescription), consider alternative forms of transportation such as hoping on the bus, calling a cab or ride share service, or calling a sober friend.
Next Step: Contact a DUI Legal Expert
DUI convictions carry serious consequences, including possible jail time, probation, alcohol treatment classes, fines, and more. If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI or DWI, a good first step is to contact an experienced attorney in your jurisdiction. An attorney who specializes in DUI/DWI cases will be able to evaluate your case and make a recommendation regarding your odds of conviction.