Vehicle Defined for DUI Laws

The Definition of Vehicle under DUI Statutes

Another definition under California Vehicle Code Chapter 670 is the description of a vehicle, which reads as follows:

A device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.

With this definition, the following are the legal determination of vehicles under the law:

  • Bicycles without motors are not considered vehicles (Tomson v. Kischassey, 1956). On the other hand, bicycles with motors are considered as vehicles under the California Vehicle Code Chapter 670. (People v. Jordan, 1977). It should be noted that driving a bicycle while intoxicated is a separate crime under California Vehicle Code Section 21200.5.
  • An individual operating a wheelchair is not driving a vehicle, according to California Vehicle Code Sections 415, 467, 14900 (as amended) and 4011. A “low speed vehicle”, is a vehicle under California Vehicle Code Section 21251. Examples of low speed vehicles are golf carts and tractors. An airplane is not a vehicle.
  • An individual riding an animal such as a horse is included under DUI laws. This is because the animal is not considered as an animal but the vehicle itself. This definition also extends to horse-drawn carriages as the animal is merely the engine which propels the vehicle, the carriage which falls within the definition of the law.

Thus in general terms, a car is considered a vehicle, so long as it complies with the definition under the law. There must be an engine that propels or moves the vehicle on a highway. Be it a car, truck, SUV or limousine, the presence of an engine determines the application of the definition of a vehicle under DUI laws.

A soapbox car is thus not a vehicle under drunk driving laws as there is no motor which propels the vehicle. Go karts and other smaller motorized carriages are considered vehicles under DUI statutes. Sail cars (contraptions that use the wind to power movement) is not covered under this statute. Without an engine, the definition of a vehicle under the penal statute does not apply.

In order to be fully apprised as to the application and effect of the DUI statute to your case, it is best to reach out to experts in the field. Do call the DUI Attorneys of the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.

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