Florida Man Arrested For DUI In A Motorized Wheelchair
A Florida man was recently arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) after blocking traffic on a bridge in Palm Bay. When he was arrested, the man was operating a motorized wheelchair, and had a strong odor of alcohol on him. The man declined police requests for a field sobriety test as well as for medical assistance for a head injury. While the idea of getting a DUI for operating a motorized wheelchair while impaired sounds farfetched, it is not unheard of and there have been other instances of people being arrested for DUIs while operating wheelchairs. People have also been arrested for being under the influence while operating riding bicycles, ATVs and other modes of transportation other than automobiles and motorcycles.
How do you get a DUI?
How do wheelchairs, bicycles, and even riding mowers qualify as vehicles for purposes of a DUI? The answer is in the definition of a vehicle. Under Florida law, a person can be charged with a DUI for driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle and under the influence of alcohol or drugs to an extent that he or she is impaired. A person can also get a DUI for operating or being in actual physical control of a vehicle and over the legal limit of 0.08 blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol level.
Legal Definition of a Vehicle
The reason an impaired person on other modes of transportation can be charged with a DUI is because the law defines a vehicle as every device that a person may use for transportation on a highway, except those modes of transportation that require stationary rails or tracks. Note that there is a difference between this definition and the definition of a motorized vehicle. A motorized vehicle is defined as being a self-propelled mode of transportation that does not require rails or tracks. More importantly, the definition of a motorized vehicle, which specifically excludes bicycles and mopeds, also specifically excludes motorized wheelchairs in the language “electric personal assistive mobility device.”
The distinction between a vehicle and a motorized vehicle can be important in terms of what penalties can apply in terms of license suspension. A driver operating an automobile can have their license automatically suspended for failure to submit to certain tests administered to prove intoxication, whereas a person operating a motorized wheelchair cannot. This distinction cannot be understated because losing your license to a DUI can affect your ability to work and make a living.
Ultimately, operating any kind of vehicle on any road with other traffic while impaired by alcohol or drugs is dangerous and a bad idea. You could get seriously injured or cause injury to other motorists.
Contact a Clearwater DUI Attorney
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DUI or is facing a license suspension hearing, you need an experienced DUI attorney representing you and fighting for you to keep your license and keep you out of jail. Consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can advise you on your case. Contact the Clearwater DUI attorneys at Roman & Roman, P.A. for a consultation on your case.