D’oh! DUI?: The Golf Cart

By December 17, 2013Thomas Law Firm


Frankly, we’ve always envied those posh Denver neighborhoods that allow residents to drive golf carts around, but did you ever think you could get a DUI on your way back from the clubhouse?

It turns out alcohol-related driving incidents happen in these little buggies more often than one would imagine (at least compared to drunk driving on a Zamboni). In fact, we can speak from personal experience on this one.

When Thomas Law Firm attorney Jake Johnson still practiced in Kansas, he prosecuted a man whose neighbors accused him of cruising drunkenly around a residential neighborhood in a golf cart. Toppling up and down the sidewalks, the man was clearly guilty of driving under the influence. As luck would have it though, the jury in this particular case felt the state was being too aggressive in their DUI campaign and determined that a golf cart did not count as a “motor vehicle.” In the end, the guy wasn’t convicted with a DUI for his golf-cart gallivanting.

A Texas court didn’t share the same sentiments though. In 2011, three men careened across the grass in a golf cart at a Fort Worth speedway and were quickly embroiled in a high-speed chase with two police officers—who were on foot. The men believed the police officer was a “lowly parking attendant chiding them for driving on the grass,” and were pretty shocked when he jumped in the back of the cart and charged the driver with a DWI. The driver tried to appeal that a golf cart wasn’t technically a “vehicle,” but the court wouldn’t hear it, saying it definitely qualified as such.

It’s completely different if you’ve driven a golf cart into a lake or hit a person with one at a carnival, of course, but the moral of this story is that absolutely anything can be considered a “vehicle,” so don’t try to rationalize that it’s better to step behind the wheel of a golf cart than a car.

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