Picture in your mind a person charged with driving under the influence. What do you see? If you are like most people, you are picturing a car and maybe a driver speaking to a police officer through their window. Maybe you picture a car with a person participating in field sobriety tests alongside it. No matter what you see in your mind’s eye, chances are there is a car or truck involved.
You aren’t alone. When people think about being charged with driving under the influence, they typically think about their own vehicle. Very few, if any, picture a tractor. Or a skateboard. Or an ATV. The truth of the matter is that a person can be charged with a DUI while operating all of these things provided they are doing so on a public roadway or public property.
When people ask us if they can really be charged with driving under the influence while driving an ATV in Pennsylvania, the answer we give is simple: Yes. And this includes riding in the woods during hunting season. Even on private property, you run the risk of being arrested if you’ve been drinking.
It may be a bit difficult to swallow, but driving under the influence laws pertain to vehicles. The law does not necessarily say that a vehicle is powered by gasoline, has doors or even a steering wheel. The law simply states that it is illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence. In most states, a “vehicle” is loosely defined. It may include tractors, skateboards, bicycles, ATVs, and passenger cars and trucks.
Operating any type of vehicle while under the influence is risky. This is as true of an ATV as anything else. If you know that you will be out riding, stay sober. Once you become intoxicated, your reaction time is slowed, you are unable to operate your ATV safely and you are putting yourself and others at risk. ATVs tend to be dangerous by nature, especially to those not experienced in operating them. Ad alcohol to the mix and they are even more hazardous.
Because there is no definite distinction among “vehicles,” the penalties are the same for those convicted of driving an ATV drunk as those who are convicted of driving a car drunk. People who are found guilty face jail time, fines and other fees associated with the crime. A conviction can also have lasting consequences that no one wants to deal with. People with a DUI on their record may find it difficult to maintain employment, secure housing or even enroll in school.
If you have been charged with driving an ATV under the influence of alcohol in Philadelphia or the surrounding area, reach out to our office. A member of our team will help you schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation at which we will advise you of the options available to you under local and state laws. Call today for assistance from an experienced Pennsylvania DUI lawyer.