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