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Different Kinds of DUIs

Many people are surprised to learn that they can commit a drunk driving offense when they’re not driving an automobile.

They might have a few beers and operate a lawnmower. They might even take an electric bicycle for a ride down the street. ATVs, golf carts and electric scooters are all motorized vehicles that can lead to a non-automobile DUI charge.

What counts as a motor vehicle?

Most states have drunk driving laws that have a wide definition of what counts as a motor vehicle when it comes to drunk driving. Most of the time, that definition includes nearly any self-propelled vehicle. It doesn’t matter if the vehicle is primarily designed for use on the roads or not. If it has wheels and it moves by anything other than human power, a person can probably face a DUI charge if they drive it drunk.

A driver faces arrest

When a person faces a DUI charge, law enforcement usually arrests them on the spot. That’s because they need to proceed to the police station in order to take an official breath test. In most cases, the breath test that the person takes on the field during the investigation isn’t admissible in court unless the accused person requests it. That means, law enforcement usually arrests the accused drunk driver to take them for official testing.

If the driver officially tests over the legal limit, they’re likely lodged in jail until further proceedings. In most cases, they wait until the alcohol leaves their system for release from jail. A judge might set a bond in the case. If the driver can’t pay the entire bond, they can work with a bail bond company. A bail bond can help a person post bond at a reasonable price in order to get out of jail until they wait for future court dates.

It’s important to look carefully at the law

A person that’s facing a non-automobile DUI charge should research their state’s laws in order to determine the state’s definition of a motor vehicle. A state’s definition of a motor vehicle might exclude mobility assistance devices such as wheelchairs. Each state likely defines motor vehicles in a specific way. It’s important that a person facing charges reviews their state-specific laws in order to determine if they have a valid defense on the grounds that they didn’t drive a motor vehicle.

Examine each element of the offense

It’s also important to review the state law in order to carefully examine each element of the offense. In addition to proving the vehicle meets the official definition of a motor vehicle, the state still must prove all of other elements of drunk driving in order for the person to receive a conviction of the charge. That means, it’s important to evaluate the state’s grounds for the drunk driving charge.

The state has to prove that the driver is either over the legal limit or that alcohol influenced their ability to drive. The state needs to follow the same procedures for conducting field sobriety tests that they must follow in any other drunk driving investigation. They must ensure the reliability of any chemical tests that they administer during the investigation. If they don’t follow procedures, this is a place where a defense attorney can demonstrate reasonable doubt.

Conducting an investigation

In addition to following investigative procedures, the state must have a legitimate reason to investigate a person for drunk driving. The state can’t just set up on the golf course and order people driving golf carts to submit to breathalyzer tests. Instead, they must have lawful grounds to interact with a driver.

The police must have some reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot. They must observe poor driving, respond to an accident or have another reason to believe that the driver is breaking a law. When the police violate a person’s constitutional rights, the remedy is usually a complete suppression of the evidence. In most cases, this ends the drunk driving case.

The penalties for non-automobile DUI are the same as the penalties for drunk driving in an automobile. A conviction can even count as a prior offense for charging enhancements in the future. If a person faces a non-automobile DUI charge, it’s critical to explore all possible avenues of defense for the best case resolution possible.

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