Here I am enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon and staying current on the latest Maryland DUI issues which may effect my DUI clients when I came across the following alcohol related article regarding a DUI charge on a bar stool. I thought that was a little weird so I figured I’d remind the public about Maryland DUI law as it relates to unusual (and sometimes silly) “vehicles”.
First, the Maryland legislature has past Maryland Transportation Article 11-176 which says in pertinent part that the definition of vehicle means any device in which a person or property may be pulled or towed on a highway. Alright, that sounds reasonable right? Well, that includes motorized bar stools. So if you are creative enough to build a motorized bar stool in order to whisk yourself off to the local watering hole, you could have a problem on the way home (sorry Norm).
The problem with such an expansive definition of vehicle as it relates to Maryland Drunk Driving however is that it is quite expansive and I would argue, overreaching. The definition of vehicle would include service animals such as horses, it would include a child’s wagon, a riding lawnmower, a bicycle and the like. There are instances of all the foregoing in the news and on youtube.com. There are videos of a guy being stopped on his riding lawnmower on a street in his neighborhood and another of a guy on his horse. I suppose there are arguments that could be made regarding the propriety of riding a lawnmower drunk on a small neighborhood street or riding a horse but I don’t think it should rise to the level of a DUI in a personal vehicle. Do you disagree, if so, no more enjoying a cold beer on a hot day while cutting your lawn. Well, there is always the story of some poor guy in a child’s wagon being arrested and charged with DUI. Now come on, that’s just ludicrous!
Remember, the Maryland statute does not allow a citizen to operate a “vehicle” (Read=lawnmower or wagon) anywhere (public property or private) while impaired. Thus, if your riding your ATV on your own personal property and the police somehow stop you and detect alcohol on your breath, your popped. As an ATV rider, I’m not suggesting it’s a good idea to engage in this behavior but I am suggesting that it strikes me as unusual that the government has a hand in what I elect to do on the privacy of my own property. Put another way, if your enjoying a weekend cook out at your house and consume some cold beers and subsequently sit in your child’s wagon and ride down the driveway (you must be intoxicated), you can be arrested if the police happen to be driving down the street and observe erratic wagon operation. Moral of the story, if your going to operate a wagon after drinking, stay right of center and don’t tailgate.
So there you have it, just a primer reminder to advise all Maryland citizens that the consumption of alcohol above or close to the legal limit of .08 (remember the limit is actually less than .08) combined with the operation of any type of vehicle (engine or not) will not be tolerated by the police/courts and that the behavior subjects you to criminal and traffic penalties and fines for DUI.