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CAN A GOLFER GET A DUI ON A GOLF CART?


May 1, 2015

A Golf Cart is A Vehicle

In the state of California, an individual only needs to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or any intoxicating substance. Some may argue that a golf cart is not a motor vehicle. Instead, it is just a battery operated conveyance that easies the movement around the greens and therefore it should not be treated in the same light as a car. I agree with the logic of the argument; however the conclusion is problematic for several reasons. One reason is that California law basically applies DUI laws to any form of transportation or conveyance that is self-propelled. Additionally, cars are becoming battery operated as well, like the electric charge for example.

Not Just Driven on Golf Courses

Additionally, it should be mentioned that golf carts are not only driven on golf courses. There are many communities which prohibit cars and require golf carts instead. Examples of such communities are senior living communities, motor home communities, and certain island locations. There are also individuals who no longer own a car due to the expense, or revoked driver’s license, and instead choose to use a golf cart. None of the above mentioned circumstances are exempted from the DUI laws within the state of California.

Private Property no Help

Another argument against a golfer getting a DUI on a golf course is that a golf course is a privately owned business and therefore the DUI laws should not apply to privately held grounds. I like that argument. However, because golf courses are open to the public they are not considered private and a person can get arrested for a DUI on a golf cart while driving on a golf course.

Intent in California

What about the issue of intention? What if you did not know that driving in a golf cart was DUI and therefore you did not intend to commit a criminal act? Will that argument beat a DUI arrest? Unfortunately the answer is “no”. DUI laws in California do not require that someone specifically intend to commit a criminal act. Instead, you need only to volitionally drive a motor vehicle while impaired. Although you may argue that the intent was only to drive and not to drive a motor vehicle due to lack of knowledge that a golf cart is a motor vehicle – that argument will get you nowhere. You need only to voluntarily move the golf cart while under the influence to get a DUI.

Not even Driving

What if you were under the influence but instead of driving the golf cart you only pushed it out a sand trap while your sober buddy was behind the wheel? That is the best argument that you can have for a golf cart DUI. However, technically under the factual scenario you were volitionally moving a self-propelled battery operated vehicle while impaired. Fairness would dictate that the DUI laws not apply to you as you were not operating the vehicle – just pushing it.

So long guys. I hope you enjoyed this recent issue. Drive safe! If arrested for DUI, call or contact us right away!

What are Some Unusual Situations Where Someone Who was not Driving Might be Charged with A DUI?

It is common knowledge that being charged with a DUI in California is a serious offense with life changing consequences. The awareness of DUI-related consequences has led drivers to take preventative actions to avoid getting a DUI such as using a designated driver or hiring other transportation for an event where they know they will be consuming alcohol. In spite of taking precautions, sometimes a person is charged with a DUI.

If you find yourself in a similar predicament, it is critical that you take the charges seriously to avoid going to court and found guilty of a DUI. There are serious consequences associated with a guilty verdict including a three to five-year probation, even for a first offense. A Westlake, California DUI probation lawyer may find ways to get the charges reduced or dismissed.

How Does a Law Enforcement Officer Determine Whether to Arrest Someone for a DUI?

California has a volitional movement standard. The standard requires that the driver must have intentionally moved their vehicle to be found guilty of DUI charges.

A typical situation begins when a police officer sees someone driving erratically. The process that usually follows includes:

  • Pulling the driver over to the side of the road to conduct an interview.
  • Administering a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test and field sobriety tests.
  • Charging the driver with a DUI based on the interview and test results.

At this point, the driver is arrested and transported to the police station, jail, or hospital to gather additional evidence and proceed with the arrest process.

Can I Still Get Serious DUI Charges not for Getting Caught Driving But Just Being Parked With My Car On?

There may be a situation where you were involved in a traffic accident that occurred before the officer arrived at the scene. There were witnesses to the accident and you had a high blood alcohol content level. In these circumstances, there could be a case for a DUI charge against you, even if the officer did not see you driving the vehicle.

In another scenario, you may be charged with a DUI if you are found sitting in your parked car with the engine running but you were not driving. In that case, the law enforcement officer looks for evidence that you were driving the car. There may be groceries or other belongings in the car or trunk and there is no other evidence that anyone else was in the car. If there are no witnesses, and the police officer detects alcohol on your breath or observes other signs of intoxication, you may be arrested for a DUI.

When a law enforcement officer responds to the scene of an accident that may be alcohol-related, they need to obtain proof that you were driving while impaired. The officer examines the scene of the accident and conducts interviews with witnesses.

Sometimes, a driver admits they were driving the vehicle at the time of the collision, or a witness claims they them driving the vehicle. Circumstantial evidence can be used to determine who was driving under the influence including a warm engine, warm tires, or keys in the ignition and the individual has no credible explanation.

How Can I Get Charged With a DUI if I Was Not in My Car nor Did I Have My Keys On Me?

In rare situations, it is possible to be charged with a DUI even if you are not in your car and do not have the keys on your person. As an example, your vehicle is found on the road with the keys in the ignition and there is a bonfire in a nearby field with multiple people present who have been consuming alcohol. The vehicle engine is still warm and was obviously recently driven, the police officer asks who was driving and you are identified as the owner and driver of the vehicle. If the officer observes signs of being under the influence, you may be given a PAS test. If the test results come back positive for alcohol, you could be charged with a DUI even though you were not in your car and did not have the keys on you.

In a DUI case, you do not need to prove that you were not driving, the prosecution has the burden of proof that you were driving. A DUI defense lawyer in Westlake, California uses the facts surrounding your DUI case to generate a reasonable doubt about whether you were driving the vehicle as charged.

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About the Author

At the Law Offices of Top Gun DUI Defense Attorney Myles L. Berman, our experienced team of DUI / Drunk Driving defense lawyers are dedicated to aggressively defending people arrested for DUI.