Man Convicted of DWI After Driving an ATV on Private Property

To be guilty of a DWI in Missouri there is no requirement that a person is driving a car or that he is driving on a public road. A Warren County man was recently convicted of driving an ATV while intoxicated in his friend’s front yard. The man had prior convictions and received a fifteen year prison sentence even though he was never behind the wheel of a car.

There are two major issues in this case. First, the man was not on any public property and was certainly not on a public roadway. Second, can an ATV really be classified as a motor vehicle for purposes of a DWI in Missouri?

Unfortunately, there is no requirement in a Missouri drunk driving case for the person to drive on a public roadway. In the case here, the man was driving in a front yard so presumably the police were able to see him and arrest him. The same would be true for any private property, no matter how remote. If a person is driving and a person is drunk, then it does not matter where those actions took place. If a golf cart is considered a motor vehicle, then any person driving a golf cart on a golf course while intoxicated is guilty of Driving While Intoxicated.

Missouri law has not always been clear on what is a motor vehicle for purposes of drunk driving. The courts have now clarified that an ATV is a motor vehicle for those purposes and anyone driving an ATV while intoxicated is guilty of driving while intoxicated in Missouri.

Source: State of Missouri v. Paul Scott Gittemeier, Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District – ED98399.

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