By: William C. Head, Drunk Driving Book author and DUI Lawyer Atlanta
Can you get a DUI on a bicycle? Yes, but not in all states. It depends upon the wording of your state’s DUI-DWI laws, and whether “vehicle” is defined as having a motor or engine.
The answer to this question is: YES, in some states.
This question is one of the more interesting and baffling of all drunk driving facts, since land ownership was of paramount importance to our English ancestors. Our heritage, coming from our roots in England, is that land ownership is a sacred right of being a citizen.
Trespassers can be ejected or even killed, under some circumstances. When it comes to laws prohibiting driving while impaired, these time-honored concepts of your home being your kingdom have fallen to the wayside (in some states) when it comes to DUI-DWI laws.
Ultimately several states, like Georgia, have passed laws that proscribe being in control of any motor vehicle “under the influence” ANYWHERE within the state, including on your own private property.
So, you could be at your own 3,000 acre farm in south Georgia, be driving your tractor to plow under the fallow fields while sipping on beer all day, and later be found (by a Department of Natural Resources officer who is patrolling for illegal hunters) passed out and slumped over on your tractor, with the engine off, and be lawfully arrested for impaired driving on your own land.
This is true despite having never left your own land, and posing no danger to any other person or vehicle on Earth. So, being on a farm tractor that does not ever reach any public right-of-way or highway can support a Georgia DUI.
DUI arrests have been made for allegedly intoxicated operators of golf carts (electric or gas powered), riding lawn mowers, mopeds, fork lifts, bulldozers, a Zamboni ice resurfacing machine inside of a building housing an ice skating rink, and many other “vehicles” including a horse and an electric wheel chair.
At first, the DUI-DWI laws in America were simple. Police could smell alcohol on the driver, and most drivers (when asked) admitted drinking some alcohol. So, the arrest process for drunk driving by alcohol was very simple and uncomplicated. The officer’s opinion of alcohol intoxication was based upon his or her description of a drunk person, who happened to be driving.
Since breath alcohol test equipment was not yet invented until the 1930s (Drunkometer and Intoximeter were the initial devices), any forensic test collected by police would have been a blood test. Seldom did cops request a warrant, in those days. No DUI attorneys (as criminal defense lawyer specialists) were around to make legal challenges, since much of our nation’s current Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendment law was developed in the 1960s and 1970s, during the Warren Court.
So, most arrests for drunken driving were made on the officer’s “opinion” of being “too drunk to drive.” Then, as now, drinking a driving for adults age 21 and older was legal.
Any field sobriety test given at the roadway was untested, unproven and based on no studies or science. No effort to standardize field sobriety testing occurred until the late 1970s and early 1980s. Each officer would dream up and use all sorts of unproven roadside tests to support an arrest decision, and criminal defense attorneys seldom challenged the LACK of any science, to back these up.
Even today, the reliability and repeatability of consistent roadside tests has very high margins of error. Any DUI lawyer worth a dime will advise clients to NEVER take voluntary and optional field sobriety tests.
The legal practice specialty of DUI lawyer or DWI attorney was never considered or contemplated, since drunk driving defense was usually handled by the family attorney or the only practicing lawyer in town. A DUI lawyer would have starved to death from lack of business, since DUI arrests were few and far between. No random DUI checkpoints existed.
Plus, in the early days of these types of arrests, the law enforcement officer would have to see a vehicle being driven, and that vehicle be on a public roadway, versus a vehicle parked on the shoulder of the road with a sleeping driver in that vehicle.
Criminal defense lawyers started to pay attention to DWI-DUI arrests, once citizens began to feel that they were being singled out, in an age where many people drank alcohol and drove on a daily basis.
Drunk driving accidents increased in number as cars and trucks became more common, and highway speeds increased. The Eisenhower Highway System in the 1950s helped increase speed limits, and boosted commerce in America as much as any other 20th Century development. President Eisenhower got this idea from seeing the remarkable German autobahn.
Legislators responded to public outrage over drunk driving accidents. These state and federal lawmakers started tweaking existing laws. Now, simply having the ignition key (or key fob), and being inside a motor vehicle while drunk is enough to trigger a DUI arrest.
Under pressure from the federal government, which controls federal highway funds, state have had to ADD another category, called “aggravated” DUI, in most states. The general theme is that drivers with high BAC levels, from alcohol readings, should be punished more harshly. Some states (Like Georgia) have enacted meaningless changes, to accommodate the federal authorities.
A few states, like West Virginia have done what the federal authorities wanted, but not gone overboard on extra punishment. A handful of other states, like Arizona, have enacted mandatory increased jail time, loss of license implications, and draconian punishment for drivers grossly impaired, according to the convicted DUI driver’s BAC level.
This review of interesting drunk driving facts and the somewhat troubling evolution of laws from being based on a common sense, safety-related criminal law to an overreaching, overly-broad enactment of illogical and invasive legislation has often been passed to satisfy MADD and other anti-drinking activists.
As laws began to become too broad and overreaching, public confidence in law-making, and the perception of DUI laws being written to generate revenue took over, with many accused drivers who were unfamiliar with their legal rights, and suffered the heavy-handed DUI penalties.
If you are facing this type of charge under Georgia DUI law, you need a GREAT Atlanta DUI lawyer. Call William Head, Larry Kohn or Cory Yager, for a DUI lawyer in your drunk driving case. Your initial appointment is FREE, and we will assess your DUI case and arrest, and find a solution for this troubling legal matter. CALL 404-567-5515, 24 hours a day.
Being arrested for Georgia DUI charges is life-altering. If you have too much to lose to have a DUI on your criminal history for life, call us. We are DUI defense lawyers who are proven experts in drunk driving defense. Because we are 24-hour lawyers, call us NOW: 404-567-5515, and get immediate legal help.
Letting us meet with you during a FREE DUI criminal case assessment is the starting point of attacking your DUI case. If winning is your objective, call our DUI law firm’s attorneys today. Led by Board-Certified DUI Lawyer Bubba Head, who has authored or co-authored over a dozen drunk driving books, both partners have been with Mr. Head since law school.
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Law partners William Head, Larry Kohn & Cory Yager offer FREE professional case review, in order to explain the approach we take, by fully investigating and defending your DUI case.
A partner will discuss legal fees, possible expert witness costs, the odds of getting a DUI reduced to reckless driving in your case. Plus, we can explain DUI defense strategies that have been successful in other drunk driving cases, similar to your fact pattern.
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