Before discussing the current state of DUI prosecution, we must first address the original intent of DUI laws. Simply put, the public demanded DUI laws be put on the books and strictly enforced due to public safety issues. Based upon the concern for potential harm that can be caused by a several ton vehicle travelling on the open roads it was argued that a car is a deadly weapon. It was further argued that a person driving a car under the influence of alcohol (and later expanded to include drugs) was as unsafe as a loaded gun. This argument was very persuasive. It was very hard to argue against the argument when photos of people injured from DUI related car accidents were presented to the legislative bodies.
DUI LAWS EXPANDED
Unfortunately, however, the true intent of these DUI laws got lost in the vigor to penalize the so called impaired driver. Over the years the law expanded the definition of a motor vehicle. A motor vehicle began to include motorized bicycles and boats. Later, the California courts determined that the motor need be in working order for a DUI to apply to a motorized vehicle. For example, an impaired person pedaling a motorized bike with a nonfunctioning motor at a speed of 12 mph can be convicted of DUI. Where is the public safety issue? It appears based upon this example the person who risks the most injury from his or her behavior is the impaired bike rider. If you are looking for the logic in prosecuting someone under these circumstances you will have to strain to find it.
CAN GET ARRESTED ANYWHERE
The law does not limit this application to public roads or property. In fact, it also included private property that is open to the public. For example, an intoxicated person can be driving a golf cart and be convicted of a DUI. What if that person’s battery died and had to be pushed by another person? As the golf cart is a motor vehicle, that person can also be charged with a DUI regardless of whether it worked.
What if an impaired individual was riding a Segway scooter at Disneyland? What about an intoxicated person operating a motorized wheelchair down the street? What about drinking a six pack before riding your Hoverboard in the bike lane? Will any of these scenarios be a way to avoid a DUI arrest? Unfortunately, by analogizing these vehicles to a motorized bike a creative police officer will make the arrest in each of the above examples. Does the fact that they are electric and not gas operated help in your defense? It could be a fact to minimize the likelihood of conviction.
In conclusion, I hope you find this informative. Stay tuned for the next blog.