A client recently contacted me to represent him for DUI for driving his vehicle on strictly private property. That is, he was attempting to get his vehicle out of a wooded area when arrested. (How the vehicle got in the wooded area in the first place is beyond the scope of this blog). I have also documented a number of DUI or alcohol related offenses on “vehicles” other than cars. So I thought I would clear up the confusion regarding where exactly you can drive in the state of Maryland and what you can operate after having consumed alcohol.
First the where may I drive? The answer is nowhere. (Trans. 11-127) Maryland’s alcohol statute 21-902 and the transportation section 16-205.1 have been interpreted by the courts to mean that a driver may not operate a vehicle anywhere in this state, public or private, after having consumed significant alcohol. There is a case on point that says operating a motor vehicle on one’s own private while over a .08 BAC is sufficient to be violative of Maryland’s statute. Now this can be contrasted with driving on a suspended license which only applies to public property or private property used by the public at large.
Second, what may I drive? A bicycle, horse, scooter, tricycle? Answer: None of the above. The legislature has drafted the definition of vehicle in the transportation article 11-176 to mean any device in which a person or property may be pulled or towed on a highway. A highway is expansively defined as essentially anyplace traffic may go. It has been interpreted to include private land. Thus, for those with a desire to know, almost any vehicle, including a wagon, but excluding a personal device designed to transport a handicapped person, would be enough to satisfy the statute. Operating this vehicle any place in the State, even completely private property would likewise be enough to satisfy the statute.