A Florida DUI arrest of a man driving a lawn mower has raised questions about the type of “vehicle” on which one might be arrested for DUI in Fort Lauderdale.
Local news reports are that a Haines City police officer was inside a business when a loud crunch from outside indicated someone had struck his cruiser. He walked outside to find a 68-year-old man operating a lawn mower with trailer attached that had crashed into the police vehicle. The man allegedly told the officer he’d be drinking, but denied causing any damage. After his breath-alcohol concentration was measured at 0.241, he was arrested for DUI and his lawnmower impounded.
As our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorneys can explain, while police are generally more concerned about drunk driving in traditional motor vehicles because of their potential for injurious and fatal damage, it is true a person can be arrested for operation of a number of different “vehicles,” pursuant to F.S. 316.193.
What Does Florida Consider Drunk Driving?
The aforementioned statute prohibits one from driving or being in actual physical control of a “vehicle” while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or while having a breath-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
The statute does not expressly use the term “motor vehicle,” just “vehicle.” Courts have interpreted this to mean the Florida legislature intended for the DUI statute to be applicable to more types of vehicles than solely those driven by a motor. The Florida legislature has never stepped forward to correct this, so the precedent stands.
Per F.S. 316.003(97), the State of Florida defines “vehicle” as every device by which or upon a person can be transported or drawn upon a highway, except those that operate exclusively on tracks or rails. Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyers know that leaves us with an incredibly broad definition that in turn has been liberally construed by the courts.
Just as one example, in the 1987 case of Florida v. Howard before Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals, justices affirmed defendant’s conviction for DUI after finding the state legislature specifically indicated “bicycles” were “vehicles,” as outlined in F.S. 316.003(3).
What the courts have not done is indicate all the vehicles that might qualify under state statute. However, among the “vehicles” for which people in Florida have been arrested – and convicted – of DUI are:
- Golf carts
- Wheel chairs
- All-terrain vehicles
- Electric scooters
- Electric bicycles
- Lawn mowers
Can a Person Lose Their License for DUI on a Bicycle, Scooter or Horse?
Technically, yes, although as our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorneys can explain, this has been a point of contention before the courts in Florida. The reason it’s been so sharply litigated has to do with the fact that operators don’t need a driver’s license to use one of these on a roadway in the first place (so long as it doesn’t travel more than 20 mph).
Courts in the past have indicated that while F.S. 322.04 exempts certain vehicle users from needing to obtain a driver’s license in order to operate that vehicle on the road, it does not deal with how one’s license might be suspended – and under the state’s DUI law, mandatory driver’s license suspension is laid out in the penalties section.
Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
‘Safer’ sidewalks: Los Angeles secures first motorized scooter DUI conviction, Sept. 27, 2018, By Steven Kiggins, USA Today
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Florida DUI Defense Lawyer Answers: Are Roadside Blood Tests Legal? April 19, 2019, Fort Lauderdale DUI Defense Attorney Blog