Every now and then you might hear about someone who has been charged with a DWI while driving a golf cart. Although in most states a golf cart is classified as a recreational vehicle, some people will drive it in residential neighborhoods, back roads, or other permitted areas. It is not uncommon for the driver of the golf cart or its occupants to consume alcohol before, or if during, the operation of the vehicle.
Although driving a golf cart while intoxicated might seem completely different than driving a car, due to its smaller size and speed capabilities; however, depending on the state, it may be a crime.
How Golf Carts Are Classified Will Make a Difference
DWI laws may apply to golf carts in states some states depending on the wording used in the laws applicable to driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated. For example, if the law says that a driver cannot operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated, but the term “motor vehicle” is not further described, a golf cart could be considered as a motor vehicle. In this case, yes, you could be charged with a DWI while operating a golf cart.
Getting Caught While Driving a Golf Cart While Under the Influence
In reality, the likelihood of a police officer noticing the activity of a golf cart driver using the vehicle in a gated community or on private property is very slim. The primary way to get caught is when the golf cart is being driven on roads where they are not allowed or when it is obvious the driver is impaired.
If a police officer suspects the driver is under the influence, they do have a right and obligation to stop the golf cart. From here they may perform a well-being check on the driver. If the state requires the driver to have a driver’s license and insurance, the police might ask for these documents. Failure to provide them could result in penalties.
Usually, police discover a golf cart DWI because the driver had an accident. Even though the vehicles only go between 20 and 40 mph, they can be dangerous. If there has been an accident involving a golf cart, the police may ask the driver to perform a field sobriety test.
Penalties for A DWI in a Golf Cart
Just like the drivers of cars, golf cart drivers cannot have any more than a 0.08 BAC limit. If field sobriety tests show more than this, the driver could be charged with a DWI or DUI. The punishment may include:
- A misdemeanor charge (if there were no mitigating circumstances or injuries)
- Court fines and fees
- Jail time
- Community service
If this was not your first DWI or your BAC was very high (usually 0.15 or more), the penalties will likely be higher.
Defending Yourself in a Golf Cart DWI Case
Any DWI charge can have serious repercussions. What makes these cases different from those involving a car is that usually, the charges will rely heavily on witness testimony. The reason for this is that it is not likely for the police to be first at the scene. If you’ve been charged with a DWI while driving a golf cart, you should consult a criminal defense attorney from a law firm like The Morales Law Firm to explore your legal rights and options.