Driving an ATV/UTV While Intoxicated – What Is the Law in Virginia?

Driving an ATV/UTV While Intoxicated – What Is the Law in Virginia?

Driving ATV While Intoxicated in Virginia - Pack Law Group

Driving an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or utility vehicle (UTV) is a favorite weekend activity for many. And while the laws for ATV/UTV operation may appear to be less strict than they are for motor vehicles (for example, it is not always required that an operator of an ATV hold a driver’s license, as found in Section 46.2-800.2 of Virginia Motor Vehicle Code), driving an ATV/UTV while intoxicated is against the law and is punishable in the same manner as if you were driving a car or motorcycle.

The Laws Regarding Operating an ATV/UTV While Intoxicated in Virginia

Virginia law is very clear as it pertains to the illegality of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated – Section 18.2-266 reads that it is unlawful for a person to operate any motor vehicle or engine while:

  • The person has a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 percent or greater;
  • The person is under the influence of alcohol;
  • The person is under the influence of a narcotic drug or any self-administered intoxicant or drug that impairs their ability to operate a motor vehicle; or
  • When the person is under the influence of any combination of alcohol or drug.

Because “motor vehicle or engine” typically refers to cars, it is important to refer to Virginia code to determine whether or not the state classifies ATVs/UTVs as motor vehicles. In short, ATVs and UTVs are certainly considered motor vehicles, with state code defining a motor vehicle as “every vehicle…that is self-propelled or designed for self-propulsion…” State code also defines an all-terrain vehicle as a three or four-wheeled motor vehicle that is powered by an engine. As such, this means that if you operate an ATV or UTV while under the influence of alcohol or with a BAC of .08 percent or above, you can be charged and convicted with a DUI, even if you are not involved in an accident or do not cause injury or damage to others.

Defenses to Operating an ATV/UTV Under the Influence and Penalties

Many people wrongly assume that because they are operating an ATV/UTV, and not a car, and because they are doing so on a trail rather than a roadway, they are perfectly within their legal rights to have a drink (or a few) first. However, this could not be further from the truth. If you are charged with a DUI while operating an ATV/UTV, it is important that you understand your legal rights and defenses. This includes the defense of not actually being under the influence, lack of evidence to convict you (no proof of a BAC of .08 percent or above), lack of operation, or lack of knowledge and intent of intoxication (i.e. you used a prescription medication prior to ATV operation without knowing that the medication would have impairing side effects).

It is important to remember that if you are convicted of a DUI, the penalties will mirror those for DUI while operating a standard car. These penalties could include a fine/fee, jail time, license suspension, and more. Of course, the DUI will also show up on your record, which could affect your ability to secure employment or other opportunities in the future.

Contact Our Virginia Law Offices for Legal Counsel Today

Most people who are charged with a DUI while operating an ATV/UTV are shocked, not understanding that they were prohibited from drinking before ATV or UTV operation in the first place. If you have been charged with a DUI while operating an ATV/UTV, you may have dozens of questions about your legal rights, whether or not you will be convicted, and if you are convicted, what the penalties will be.

At the offices of the Pack Law Group, we understand what you are going through, and the fears you may be facing. If you want to improve your chances of securing the best possible outcome for your case, we strongly recommend that you contact our experienced Virginia DUI attorneys. We have experience representing those who have been charged in Virginia with driving under the influence while operating an off-road vehicle, and know how to build your defense, protect your rights, work with the prosecution, and advocate for you.

To learn more and begin the process of building your case, please contact us as soon as possible. Contact the Pack Law Group today at (540) 586-7225 or by using our website contact form. Our phone lines are open 24/7.

GERD/Acid Reflux Defense for Virginia DUI

When you violate a traffic law, a police officer can pull you over and cite you for the violation. During the stop, the officer may have probable cause to ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test. If the results of the breathalyzer test imply that you have been drinking alcohol, you can be arrested and charged with a DUI (driving while under the influence). If you are convicted of a DUI, this can have a significant effect on your life and your future opportunities.

At the Pack Law Group, our Virginia DUI attorneys have focused on helping clients defend themselves against DUI charges over the years. While there are a number of defenses that may work for you depending upon the circumstances of your charges, one type of defense that is very viable is the GERD/acid reflux defense. Here’s what you need to know:

What Are GERD and Acid Reflux?

GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a type of chronic digestive condition that is characterized by stomach acid or stomach content flowing back up through the esophagus. The stomach acid/stomach content is called reflux, which then irritates the lining of the esophagus, as explained by the Mayo Clinic. 

Acid reflux and GERD are not the same thing, although they are closely related. While acid reflux is also characterized by stomach acid making its way back up through the esophagus, GERD is a more serious form of the condition. Acid reflux is occasional, and is often triggered by certain foods; the symptoms of GERD occur more frequently, and the condition can also include vomiting, trouble swallowing, and constant coughing.

What Is the Relationship Between a DUI and GERD/Acid Reflux?

As stated above, one thing that can help an officer make an arrest, and can help the prosecution secure a conviction, are the results of a breathalyzer test. However, medical conditions like GERD and acid reflux can lead to an inaccurate breathalyzer test result.

In order to understand why this happens, it is important to know how breathalyzers work. Breathalyzers, as their name implies, only measure the percentage of alcohol that is found in your breath, not your blood and body as a whole.

This can be a problem for someone with GERD or acid reflux disease, especially for someone who has had a drink or two, but not nearly enough to reach or surpass the legal limit for drinking and driving. Because GERD and acid reflux cause stomach acid or stomach content to flow back into the esophagus and the mouth, mouth alcohol content can lead to a breathalyzer test measuring overall alcohol content as much higher than the person actually consumed. As such, a person may blow a percentage over the legal limit of .08 percent, even if their BAC is really much lower, such as .05 percent.

How Our Lawyers Can Use Your Medical Condition as a Defense to a DUI Charge

If you suffer from GERD or acid reflux and experienced a flare up right before you were asked to blow into a breathalyzer, there is a very good possibility that your condition negatively affected the results of your breathalyzer test. At the Pack Law Group, our Virginia DUI Attorneys strongly believe that a person should never be convicted on faulty evidence, which is why we will work diligently to have the results of your breathalyzer test dismissed if you do indeed suffer from a gastrointestinal disorder. In order to do this, we will not only obtain the results of your breathalyzer and any other forms of evidence that provide proof of how much/how little you had to drink before operating your vehicle, but we will also call on your doctor to provide testimony of your condition. We can also hire medical experts who can testify regarding the relationship between a higher breathalyzer BAC reading and gastroesophageal reflux disease/acid reflux.

Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation

If you want to learn more about how to build a defense to a DUI and what your options are after being charged with a DUI in Virginia, do not hesitate to contact our law firm. We are professionally trained to represent your best interests during a Virginia DUI case, and know how to fight aggressively to have charges against you dropped or reduced. For a strong legal defense for your Virginia DUI that you can count on, contact the knowledgeable Virginia DUI attorneys at Pack Law Group today to schedule your initial consultation. We can be reached at (540) 586-7225.