The 9 Most Unexpected Ways to Get a DUI

Drunk driving is a serious offense in the United States. You could face community service, jail time, pay a fine, and even lose your license. However, did you know that drunk driving penalties don’t apply to cars alone?

You can get a driving under the influence (DUI) charge while riding a lawn mower, motorized recliner, bicycle, amongst others. This article explores the nine most unexpected ways to get a DUI. Read to the end!

Uncommon Ways to Get a DUI

Most people usually think DUI charges apply to cars alone. However, you can receive a DUI on most motorized vehicles. Here are nine of the most surprising ways you can receive a DUI in different states:

DUI Because Your Car Is Parked

Yes, this can be surprising for many drivers, but receiving a DUI in a parked car is possible. Most states’ DUI laws forbid drivers from “operating” or having “actual physical control” of a motor vehicle while intoxicated. So, you can still receive a DUI even without moving your car.

While state laws vary, most require juries to consider the “totality of the circumstances” to decide whether the motorist in question was operating or in physical control of the car. In other words, the jury must pay attention to every detail surrounding the case. These often include the following:

  • Location of the car
  • Location of the driver
  • Location of the keys
  • Whether the motorist was awake or asleep
  • Whether the car’s engine was running

For example, when considering the car’s location, a jury is more likely to be sympathetic to motorists whose vehicle is parked in their driveway than one found parked on a sidewalk. Also, a jury is more likely to convict a motorist with the car key in the ignition or within reach.

All of this information gives the jury an indication of how much of a risk the motorist posed to the public.

Driving Drunk on Private Property

Another unexpected way to get a DUI is drunk driving on private property. However, note that DUI laws vary from state to state, meaning that you may or may not be charged with a DUI for drinking and driving on your private property.

In states like Idaho and Michigan, the DUI laws only apply to private and public property accessible to the general public. (For example, a golf course is a private property that’s open to the public.) In these states, you’re free to lawfully drunk drive on your private property as long as it’s not accessible to the general public.

In other states like West Virginia and Kentucky, you can face driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges for drunk driving on your private property, regardless of whether or not the property is open to the public.

DUI for Riding a Bike

Riding a bicycle while intoxicated can result in DUI charges in more than 20 states. Most of the remaining states have laws that can be enforced depending on the cyclist’s location when riding.

In states like Colorado and South Dakota, police officers can arrest you for drunk driving while operating a bicycle. However, recently, some states, including North Dakota, exempted bicycles from state DUI laws.

A driver opening a bottle of beer while driving

Operating Watercraft Under the Influence

All states have laws against Boating Under the Influence (BUI). According to U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics, alcohol usage was the leading cause of fatal boating accidents reported in 2011, accounting for 16% of the 758 fatalities.

Operating a boat under the influence is illegal in all states, from small canoes to the largest ships. This law applies to any type of vessel, including boats, water skis, jet-ski, wakeboards, kneeboards, and similar non-motorized recreational watercraft. However, note that most states do allow open containers on boats.

Drunk Driving While Operating a Tractor 

Tractors and other farming machinery are also not exempt from the DUI statutes. Due to its strength and size, operating a tractor under the influence can cause injury to others, damage to automobiles, and damage to private and public properties.

As a result, operating a tractor after having a few drinks is illegal in the eyes of the law. A tractor DUI is handled the same as any other DUI charge, and the penalties can also include loss of license, jail time, and financial penalties.

In recent legislation passed by the Arkansas House of Representatives, tractors and other farm machinery are now included in the definition of “motor vehicle.” According to a portion of the bill, farm equipment operators involved in a vehicle incident must have their blood alcohol content (BAC) tested by a police officer, just like a car driver would.

You Can Get a DUI on a Golf Cart

A DUI charge with a golf cart is both possible and commonly issued. Countless DUI arrests involving golf carts have occurred in states like Florida and South Carolina. According to the Florida driving under the influence law, a person can receive a DUI for drunk driving while operating any type of motorized vehicle, including electric bikes, golf carts, and motorized wheelchairs.

One such golf cart-related DUI arrest happened in Florida in November of 2015, where a golf cart driver who failed to stop at an intersection and was later found to be drunk was charged with DUI.

Also, South Carolina law allows for a person to face DUI charges while driving a golf cart. Golf Digest published an entire article on the issue since the offense is so common.

You Can Get a DUI on a Horse

Does a horse count as a motorized vehicle? The same rules apply to riding a horse and carriage while intoxicated as they do for operating a real vehicle in almost every state. While riding a horse while impaired might not get a DUI charge in some states, driving a horse-and-carriage while intoxicated is a DUI offense in most states.

Despite not having a motor and not being cars, buggies are nevertheless considered road vehicles in most states. A fatal accident involving a horse and buggy is possible, and the likelihood that it’ll occur increases when you’re drunk.

Therefore, it’s best to leave your horse alone if you plan on having a few drinks. If you don’t, it could result in a DUI offense once the police officers pull you over.

A police officer performing a sobriety test on a driver

Operating a Tricycle Under the Influence 

It seems that taking your tricycle home after having a few drinks can also land you into trouble. An Oregon man was charged with DUI for this specific offense in October 2008. Witnesses reported the drunk driver was riding his tricycle on the wrong side of the street, and the police were alerted. The police arrested the driver when he failed the sobriety tests.

You Can Get a DUI on a Motorized Recliner

In October 2009, a Minnesotan who had just started driving home from a bar crashed into a parked car. Although the driver wasn’t hurt, the police found his BAC three times over the legal limit. While the case may seem ridiculous, the judge sentenced the motorist to two years of probation and 180 days in jail.

5 Things to Note About DUI Cases

What happens to motorists who are pulled over for DUI? Do you have to pay fines or face probation? You’ll likely have questions regarding what will happen after your first DUI arrest. Although DUI cases vary, the majority of cases share similar legal procedures. Here are some things to note following your first DUI:

You Must Show Up in Court

Following your arrest, a court date will be set for your initial hearing. You have the option of pleading guilty or not guilty during your initial hearing. Even while it’s allowed, entering a guilty plea at your initial hearing is usually not a smart move. Your best bet is to get a good DUI attorney who can help fight your case.

You’ll Probably Get Fined

Although first-time DUI penalties differ from state to state, most cases end in a fine. DUI fines can cost up to $6,500 on average, making them quite expensive. Also, note that this figure doesn’t include lost wages resulting from the DUI.

Your Driver’s License Is at Risk

Expect a notice from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) after your arrest, informing you that your driver’s license has been taken away or formally suspended. Your license may be suspended for a minimum of six months (180 days). However, whether you lose your license depends on how your legal matter turns out.

If this is your first DUI offense, you might only face a short license suspension. However, in some cases, a motorist may be granted specialized driving privileges. These driving privileges will allow the motorist to drive on a limited basis without a normal driver’s license.

You Can Be Sentenced to Probation, Jail Time, or DUI Training

Once again, the penalties for a DUI vary depending on state DUI laws. The least severe consequence you may face is license suspension and a fine. However, in other cases, you may also face more severe repercussions, including probation, jail time, and a DUI training course.

Auto Insurance Rates Will Likely Increase

Your auto insurance rate may also increase after your first DUI. DUIs remain on your record, so it may take a while for your rates to decrease.

Three intoxicated men on a horse-drawn carriage

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Can I Receive a DUI on a Non-Motorized Vehicle?

Although motorized vehicles account for most DUI charges, non-motorized ones are also occasionally involved. While state laws differ, several states have regulations in place that make it unlawful to operate certain non-motorized vehicles while intoxicated. Bicycles are the most common non-motorized vehicle in this category.

  1. How Long Is a DUI License Suspension?

If you’re a first-time offender, your license will probably be suspended for six to ten months or a full year if you refuse to test. However, you can apply for a “critical use” or restricted license after 30 days except if you refused the sobriety testing.

  1. How Can You Beat a DUI Charge?

The best way to avoid a DUI charge is to refrain from driving under the influence. However, if you find yourself facing a DUI charge, then contact a DUI defense attorney right away. DUI cases are quite complicated. Therefore, a qualified attorney is the best person to advise you on what to say and do during a DUI case.


The purpose of laws prohibiting drinking and driving is to keep people safe. DUI charges don’t apply to cars alone but also to many other types of vehicles, such as tractors, parked cars, bicycles, and even horses.

The penalties for DUI or DWI depend on the situation and the state’s DUI statutes. However, you most likely will appear in court, lose your license, and pay fines. A good DUI attorney-client relationship can prove valuable to your case when facing a DUI.

The majority of DUI attorneys will offer a free consultation to potential clients. However, even if there is a little fee to pay, it will probably be money well spent.