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Can you get a DUI when you aren’t on the road?

On Behalf of | Feb 25, 2023 | DUI |

When the sky is bright and the weather is good, you enjoy having a drink or two in your free time to relax. You would never dream of getting behind the wheel of your car after tossing back a couple beers, but it never occurred to you that you could get into trouble for rolling around the local campground on your golf cart – until it happened.

How is this possible? Well, it’s all about the way that the law is written. Here’s what you need to know:

It’s all about the way that the law is written

In Hawaii, you can be guilty of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (OVUII) whenever you operate or assume “actual physical control of a vehicle.” The law does not restrict that charge solely to the operation of a car or truck – or even, for that matter, a motorized vehicle. Nor does it restrict the charge to those who are on public roads.

In practical terms, this means you can be charged with drunk driving if you:

  • Use a golf cart on the golf course while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Operate an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) on a campground while impaired
  • Drive a boat on a private lake while intoxicated or while drinking
  • Use an electric scooter or e-bike on the sidewalk while impaired
  • Use a riding lawn mower or an electric wheelchair to go to the store while intoxicated

In fact, since the law doesn’t require something to have a motor to be considered a vehicle, you could potentially face impaired driving charges for being intoxicated while on a bike. You can also be charged with a crime for sleeping off a binge at the local bar in your car with the keys in your pocket, since that still leaves you in actual control of the vehicle.

Drunk driving charges are more complicated than most people realize, which is why it’s only wise to get experienced legal guidance to help plan your defense.