Experienced Criminal Defense Services

Can you get a DWI in NY if you aren’t driving a car?

An Indiana man recently made the news because he tried a not-so-clever workaround to avoid a drugged driving charge by using a Power Wheels Jeep toy as his mode of transportation. He ended up arrested anyhow.

Could something like that happen in New York? Absolutely. It all comes down to the way the laws on driving while impaired (DWI) are written.

Most people don’t realize the broad definitions in the law

In this state, a “motor vehicle” is defined as any vehicle “propelled by any power other than muscular.”

What does that mean if you’re impaired by drugs or alcohol? It means you don’t have to be driving a car, truck, or van to get into legal trouble. You can be arrested for taking a jaunt down a public highway, through a parking lot or even on a private road that’s open to traffic even if you’re only operating:

  • An electric scooter, like those by Lime or Razor
  • A tractor or another piece of motorized farm equipment
  • Electric skates or an electric skateboard
  • A piece of construction equipment, like a forklift
  • A golf cart or a riding lawn mower
  • A power mobility chair or an electric wheelchair

Even the aforementioned Power Wheel Jeep would be considered a motor vehicle in this state, as well.

It’s far better to have a backup plan than to take a chance

Usually, when an incident like the one involving the toy car makes national news it’s because people find it kind of humorous – but there’s nothing funny about the consequences of a drunk or drugged driving charge, no matter how it happened. With that in mind, if you plan to indulge, be smart: Have a backup plan in place. If you plan to indulge, either plan to stay where you are until you’re sober or leave your keys at home and use a designated driver or call an Uber.

If you’ve already made a mistake and are facing charges, it’s wise to explore all your defense options carefully before you decide how to proceed. Many cases are much more nuanced than they initially seem.