Do I Have to Be In a Car to Get a DUI?
When people think of driving under the influence, they picture a vehicle of some sort. Typically, thoughts turn to a car or truck. People may have read the odd story of someone being charged with DUI while driving a tractor or boat, sometimes even a bicycle, but these stories are few and far between. Many don’t realize that a vehicle, as defined by law, covers a wide range of motorized and non-motorized equipment and machinery.
For example, ATV riding is a popular pastime in Georgia and elsewhere. People ride ATVs as a leisure activity, and hunters use them for quick, versatile transportation. Many people think nothing of having an adult beverage or two and then operating a recreational vehicle. Unfortunately, this can be a costly mistake.
In Georgia, operating an ATV or any other vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is a crime. According to Georgia law, you may be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances and previous charges.
A DUI conviction in Georgia is serious. You will have immediate consequences to pay combined with some that last a lifetime. If you are suspected of DUI in Atlanta and arrested for the crime, you need an experienced defense attorney.
Public Versus Private Property
Because police are more likely to patrol public property, that is where you are most likely to get a DUI in a vehicle. However, riding while inebriated is just as illegal — and dangerous — on private property. No matter where you are caught riding, you can be charged with a DUI if you’ve been drinking.
The penalties for operating any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are the same as those given to a person operating a typical vehicle. The fact that the vehicle is not a car makes no difference in the eyes of the law. A person convicted of the crime will face fines, jail time and more. Being convicted of DUI can have lifelong consequences.
- First Offense: You may spend up to a year in jail, fines that could total $1,000 and a 1-year license suspension.
- Second Offense: You may spend up to a year in jail, pay a fine of $1,000 and have your license suspended for three years.
- Third Offense: Jail time could be up to one year in jail, the fine amount could be $5,000 and your license may be suspended for five years.
- Fourth Offense: You could be imprisoned for up to five years, pay fines totaling $5,000 and have your license suspended indefinitely.
It’s important to understand that DUI sentences are dependent upon prior convictions over the past 10 years. That means that if you are convicted of a DUI, a judge will look at your criminal history to see if you have been convicted of one in the previous ten years and then determine your sentence.
Georgia is an implied consent state. That means that when you signed for your driver’s license, you said that you would consent to any chemical test that a law enforcement officer requests if you are under suspicion of being under the influence while operating a vehicle. Refusing to consent to a chemical test is technically against the law.
If you refuse to submit to a chemical test, you will have additional penalties. For the first offense, you are subject to a one-year license suspension. A second offense of refusing to submit to a chemical test means a three-year license suspension, and a third offense means a five-year suspension.
In general, if a vehicle moves and you will be driving it on a public roadway, it is a best practice to stay sober. There have been instances of people being arrested for DUI while operating hoverboards, tractors, mopeds, skateboards and more. It is considered dangerous to the person and the public to operate a moving object while under the influence. A good rule of thumb is this: if you will be operating any type of moving object or vehicle, don’t consume alcohol.
Being convicted of a DUI, no matter what you were operating, can have lasting consequences. A conviction could affect your ability to get or maintain a job, enter school or secure housing. Any person charged with driving under the influence should consult with an experienced DUI attorney. Your freedom, livelihood and reputation are all at stake.
Talk to an Atlanta DUI Lawyer Today
If you have been charged with DUI in DeKalb County, whether you were driving a car or any other type of vehicle, reach out to our team today. We will help you schedule a convenient appointment, and then we will review the details of your case at no cost to you. Let us help you decide the best course of action for you and your family. Call us today to schedule your appointment, or reach out to us online.