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Definition of "Vehicle" in DUI Cases

California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) and (b) make it a criminal offense to drive a "vehicle" while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with a blood or breath alcohol level of .08% or more. This begs the question; what is a "vehicle"?

In the majority of DUI cases, this is not an issue as the defendant is stopped driving a car, truck or motorbike, all clearly "vehicles" within the definition. But what if the defendant is driving a motorized scooter, a fork lift truck or even a motorized skateboard? The Vehicle Code defines the term in section 670 as "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".

The courts have held that a scooter which has a small motor but which also can be propelled by pedalling, is a vehicle within the definition. However, a bicycle is not. However, Vehicle Code Section 21200.5 makes it an offense to ride a bicycle on a highway while under the incluence of alcohol or drugs. This is not a "DUI" however and carries a penalty of a fine only. As far as we are aware, the courts have not addressed the question of whether a "Segway" amounts to a vehicle for DUI purposes. Defending DUI charges in Los Angeles often involves addressing issues that higher courts have yet to give guidance over.

If you have any questions about the definition of DUI in California, please call Los Angeles DUI Attorneys Gold & Witham for a free consultation.