If you drive in California, it never hurts to review the details of this state’s DUI laws.
Everyone knows that you shouldn’t drink alcohol before you operate a car, truck, or motorcycle on a California street or highway.
However, some drivers may not fully comprehend the extent of the law or the severity of the penalties for a DUI conviction.
The first thing you need to know is the basic rule – Don’t Drink and Drive.
The second thing you need to know is that if you are arrested in Southern California on a DUI charge, you’ll need to retain the advice and services of an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney – immediately.
As for the details of the state’s DUI laws, it’s important to understand how California law defines what a vehicle is.
The law specifies that a “vehicle” is “a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.”
Boating or bicycling under the influence are addressed by separate laws in California, but someone can be charged with DUI while driving a golf cart, a moped, an ATV, or even a Zamboni machine.
IS A GOLF CART DUI LAW IN CALIFORNIA EVEN NECESSARY?
If you think the DUI law in California is silly or goes too far, think again. More than once in recent years in the United States, a golf cart operated by an allegedly impaired driver has been involved in a fatal accident.
On June 2nd, a California woman, 58-year-old Debra Bedard, died apparently after falling from a golf cart and landing on the broken shards of two wine glasses she had been holding.
The incident occurred in a private olive orchard in Wallace, southeast of Sacramento.
According to the Mercury News, a preliminary police report indicated that Ms. Bedard’s companion, 57-year-old Richard Clarke, was driving the golf cart “while intoxicated” and made a left turn that caused Ms. Bedard to lose her balance and fall off the golf cart. Mr. Clarke was taken into custody on suspicion of DUI.
Last year in Gallatin, Illinois, 60-year-old Timothy Doyle fell from a golf cart and was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he died from fatal head injuries sustained in the collision.
Mr. Doyle’s wife, 55-year-old Lori Doyle, was charged with DUI. When Gallatin police arrived at the accident scene, they found a number of empty beer cans both inside and atop the golf cart.
HOW COMMON ARE GOLF CART DUI CASES?
According to Golf Digest, there have been at least 13 golf cart accident fatalities in the United States since 2000 and scores of serious golf cart-related injuries.
In The Villages, a huge retirement community of 51,000 northwest of Orlando – with 32 golf courses spread over three counties – a golf cart operator is cited for DUI about once a week.
And with a hundred miles of public cart paths in Peachtree City, Georgia, about ten percent of the DUI citations go to golf cart operators.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter what kind of a vehicle you are driving. If you’re driving it while you are intoxicated, you’ll probably be arrested and charged with DUI – in California and in every other state – and you’ll need an attorney’s advice and assistance.
In 2015, a Fargo, North Dakota man who was resurfacing the ice at a high-school hockey game was arrested for operating his Zamboni machine while intoxicated.
That same year, police in Conyers, Georgia charged a 48-year-old man on a DUI charge for operating his motorized wheelchair while intoxicated – inside a supermarket.
In 2014, a man was arrested for suspicion of DUI after driving his riding lawnmower down Eighth Avenue in Garden City, Colorado. In other states, people have been cited for DUI while operating tractors, ATVs, mopeds, adult tricycles, and even while riding horses.
In the state of California, people have been charged with driving under the influence for simply sitting or sleeping in a parked car.
If you are facing a DUI charge in southern California for any reason – no matter what you were driving – you should speak at once with an Orange County DUI defense attorney.
WHAT IF YOU OPERATE A BICYCLE OR A BOAT WHILE INTOXICATED?
Bicycling isn’t an acceptable alternative means of transportation if you’re intoxicated in California. If you ride a bicycle in this state while you’re impaired, you can be charged with CUI or cycling under the influence.
It’s a misdemeanor charge, and a conviction is punishable with a $250 fine, but you’ll have a criminal conviction on your record.
Boating under the influence or BUI in California is handled much like driving under the influence, with similar penalties for a conviction.
If you find yourself charged with any of these crimes, a skilled DUI attorney can review the facts in a BUI, CUI, or DUI case, dispute the state’s evidence, challenge the state’s witnesses, and fight aggressively for justice on your behalf.
Good DUI attorneys routinely prevail on behalf of defendants in this state, and in the worst scenario – the case against you is conclusive and you’re convicted of driving under the influence – you’ll still need to have a reliable lawyer who can negotiate for reduced or alternative sentencing.
If you are charged with DUI, you should be represented by a defense attorney who concentrates entirely on DUI cases.
Every year, proposals to expand DUI laws or impose stiffer penalties are considered by the California State Legislature.
The science and law involved in DUI cases today is quite complicated, so your attorney must have extensive knowledge of DUI statutes and considerable experience defending clients accused of DUI. Your DUI lawyer should also have a good reputation and a record of success.
Of course, driving under the influence – or boating, bicycling, or operating any motorized vehicle while intoxicated – is a crime that no one needs to commit in Southern California. If you plan to enjoy alcohol with friends, plan some transportation home at the same time.
Rides for hire – taxis, limos, Lyft and Uber – are abundant in southern California and are available every hour of the day, every day of the year.
If you follow just one basic rule – Don’t Drink and Drive – you’ll be doing your part to keep California’s streets, highways – and golf courses – safe.