Can you be convicted of drunk driving if you never left your own property? 48 Answers as of February 24, 2012

I dove up my driveway to my mail box to get my mail and had been at home having some drinks. When I went to back up, I put my standard car in the wrong gear. Instead of backing up, I went over my bank onto my property. The police are trying to charge me with DUI. Can they do this? I was never on the black top road. I was never off my property.

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Clifford Clendenin & O'Hale, LLP
Clifford Clendenin & O'Hale, LLP | Locke T. Clifford
An essential element of DWI, that the state must prove beyond reasonable doubt is that you were on a public street or highway, which your driveway is not.
Answer Applies to: North Carolina
Replied: 4/26/2011
Law Office of Bill Montecucco
Law Office of Bill Montecucco | Bill Montecucco
My recollection is that you can be convicted of a DUI even if you never left your real property. If you would like to discuss the situation, please feel free to give me a call.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 2/1/2011
The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady
The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady | Kevin O'Grady
What you are asking about is a very important aspect of having an experienced attorney defend you. It is possible the alleged crime took place in an area that the state will not have jurisdiction over, or that, because of the location of the event it is in fact not a crime! You should retain an experienced attorney to defend you ASAP.
Answer Applies to: Hawaii
Replied: 1/28/2011
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
You can be guilty of drunk driving by driving on public or private property including your own.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/28/2011
Greco Law Office
Greco Law Office | Dominic Greco
If you were never on public property then you can not be charged with Dui. I am confused about driving over the Bank? Were you on the side of the road? Was it public property on the ditch? Feel free to contact me for more specific information.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 1/26/2011
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
    It will depend on very specific things such as the definition of "highway" and "road" under state law, plus the exact layout of your property according to county records / titles. This is probably something you will have to hire an attorney for. The attorney will need to pull the title, look up the definitions, and research the case law interpreting the definitions. If they are able to do all this before the charges are filed, the attorney can call the prosecutor for you and attempt to get the case declined.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    Mettias & Associates
    Mettias & Associates | Jimmy Philip Mettias, Esq
    Thank you for submitting your question to our firm, Mettias and Associates, in regard to whether or not you can be charged and convicted of a DUI on your own property. This is a tricky matter because a DUI is not defined by where it occurs, and there is case law suggesting the Courts are not clear or consistent in their determinations. Please contact our office to set up a free consultation and to discuss your legal options. Please be advised this response does not create an attorney client relationship, and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should meet with a local attorney in your area.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    The Sarbaugh Law Firm
    The Sarbaugh Law Firm | Bruce W. Sarbaugh
    Yes, in Colorado you can be charged with DUI even though you were driving on private property. However, before the police can contact you, there must be some evidence that would give them reasonable suspicion to believe you were involved in criminal activity or a traffic offense. Depending on the circumstances of your case, there may be a defense that the police unlawfully contacted you, in which case any evidence they obtained thereafter would be suppressed.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    The Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC
    The Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC | Justin C. Olsinski
    Technically the law reads as follows "A person commits the offense of impaired driving if he drives any vehicle upon any highway, any street, or any public vehicular area within this State". The idea here is that the driving while impaired has to be on some public area. Can they charge you? Well I assume from your question, they already have, so yes. Now that they charged you, can the state prove the charges against you? That is something that you should hire an attorney to handle, it may get down to a lot of facts on the property lines and what the officers are testifying to. While you say one thing, the officers may have a different story, so it is imperative you have an attorney look over all the facts of the case. If the state cannot prove you were on public property then they cannot convict you, but if you do not have representation the odds of you actually showing the state has not met this burden are severely diminished. I hope this helps.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    First this response is general information only and does not establish an attorney client relationship. However in general you can be charged with DWI or DUAI as long as you are in the vehicle and the engine is running even if vehicle is stopped.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    Bloom Legal, LLC
    Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
    The short answer is yes because the DWI/DUI regulations are state (not city) laws. That being said a number of factors are involved in determining your possible defenses, for example: whether or not you had direct access to a public roadway, etc. The best thing for you to do is to hire an experienced DUI/DWI Attorney to discuss the details of your case in depth. There are likely a number of loopholes that an attorney will be able to exploit in your defense.

    If you are seeking representation in this matter in the state of Louisiana, we invite you to contact your firm at the information provided on this site.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You can be arrested but the prosecutor cannot prove the case at trial because DWI requires that a person operate a vehicle "on a public highway" while intoxicated. Operating is defined as being behind the wheel with the key in the ignition, or actually driving the vehicle, but you driveway is private property and not a public highway. If the testimony at trial is that you never left your personal property you will acquitted, and the court may even grant a motion to dismiss at a pre-trial hearing upon motion of your attorney as long as the criminal complaint does not allege that it was a public highway or if the police officer admits that at the hearing.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 1/25/2011
    Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller
    Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller | Thomas Mueller
    In the past it was necessary for the D.A. to prove you were on a public roadway. No more. The law changed about 30 years ago. If , however you are in one of those forgiving jurisdictions like San Fran or Oakland the D.A. may take pity on you and reduce the charge. For more info or to retain our firm call Tom Mueller.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/25/2011
    Law Office of Steven S. Kim
    Law Office of Steven S. Kim | Steven Kim
    If you were never on a public way, then you can be charged, but they will have a hell of a time trying to convict you, because one of the requirements to be convicted of an OUI is that you were operating on a public way or some other area that the public has open access. I dont believe your driveway counts.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 1/25/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    You certainly can be arrested for DUI, wherever you are situated in the State of Illinois. People have been convicted of DUI when parked in their autos, on their driveways, with the radio on. Before, you needed to be on a public highway, but that was long ago. Now, you can be convicted (if there is sufficient evidence, of course), by being on your private driveway, or anywhere else within the state. I would advise consulting counsel about this arrest, ASAP.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 1/25/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Yes, they can charge you. They did so because they think can convict you. Its up to you to keep that from happening.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/25/2011
    Harris Law Firm
    Harris Law Firm | Jennifer C. Robins
    In Oregon, in order to be found guilty of DUII, the prosecutor would have to prove all the material elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Whether or not someone drove on premises open to the public is a material element.

    Law enforcement may arrest you under the circumstances described and the prosecutor may actually charge you with DUII, but you have a good issue for trial with regard to driving solely on your own property.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 1/25/2011
    Law Office of Cotter C. Conway
    Law Office of Cotter C. Conway | Cotter C. Conway
    In Nevada, the prosecution must prove that you were driving a vehicle "on a highway or on premises to which the public has access" while under the influence of alcohol in order to convict you of DUI. Thus, if you were only driving a vehicle on private property, then you should not be convicted of DUI. However, there is nothing to prevent the police from charging you with DUI if they have probable cause to believe you had been driving on a public highway before the accident that put you over a bank on your property. Call me for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 1/25/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    Unfortunately, yes you can be charged with a DUI in Kansas on private property. The only requirements to charge a DUI is that you are operating or attempting to operate a motor vehicle while you are impaired from either alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 1/25/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    You should retain an experienced criminal lawyer in your community to research the law on your matter. It may be that the state's theory is that you had also driven on a public highway. Your attorney needs to know all the facts and can then advise you as to your rights and options. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 1/25/2011
    Nichols Law Firm
    Nichols Law Firm | Michael J. Nichols
    The short answer is yes. Whether a jury will convict you is the real issue. If the case facts are not strong, many prosecutors would rather find a way to resolve it that makes sense for both parties.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 1/25/2011
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    Yes you can be charged with driving drunk on your property, but they will have some proof problems to overcome to get a conviction. You need a good lawyer to raise the issues of control and proof of intoxication at the time of the driving. I would be happy to discuss the matter with you.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 1/25/2011
    Smith & John
    Smith & John | Kenneth Craig Smith, Jr.
    You do not have to be on a public highway; however, because you are on private property, it sounds as if the police may have violated your 4th Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure. This could potentially cause any evidence against you to be suppressed from being used in evidence at trial. Additionally, if you took any breath or blood test, that should be suppressed from evidence because those tests only are available if you were driving on a public highway.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 1/25/2011
    Law Office of Elmer H.
    Law Office of Elmer H. | Elmer H.
    If you were in Georgia at the time, they can! Several years ago, the law was changed expanding the ability to convict from just those who were operating a vehicle on a roadway to include the language, "anywhere in the state of Georgia". Get the best DUI lawyer you can afford.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 1/25/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
    Yes the police can arrest you and the DA can charge you. These are interesting facts. I would love to know how the police got involved.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    Mandarano, Cavaletto & Associates
    Mandarano, Cavaletto & Associates | Christopher Mandarano
    The short answer is yes, they can charge you with a DUI even though it occurred on your property as you describe. That said, the circumstances that you describe may allow for the possibility of challenging the charges if the police did not have probable cause to suspect you were driving under the influence. You may have a strong defense, but if you intend on challenging this DUI, you will need a lawyer don't go it alone or it may well wind up costing you a lot more money and time.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    I just completed extensive research on this issue. You need to contact an experienced DUI Attorney, preferably in your jurisdiction (whose office is in your County). I would need to see some photos. You never hit the asphalt, but I need to see exactly where you where. You might have a defense if you were always on private property, where the public would not have a right to go.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson | Michael E. Hendrickson
    Yes, your assertion that you were allegedly never off your property will be important to your defense against this charge of DUI, but you will need to have an experienced criminal defense counsel to put it all together for you to have a realistic chance of beating this particular charge (in my opinion).
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    Minnesota DWI laws make no distinction between public and private roadways. As a result, a person may be charged for operating a motor vehicle on their own property or the property of a private business.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    Law Offices of Lawrence Wolf
    Law Offices of Lawrence Wolf | Lawrence Wolf
    Yes. But you may have strong defenses. Give us a call.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    Either they will lie and say you did go into the street or they can charge you with being drunk in public.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    I would suggest retaining an experienced DUI attorney right away. Drunk driving can apply to private property (i.e. public store parking lot) but usually the requirement is that the public must have access or otherwise open to the public. Your driveway would most likely not fit into that category thereby giving you a good defense to fight the charge. In any event, you need an experienced DUI attorney as the consequences are too high and the process too complicated to do it by yourself.

    Feel free to give us a call for a free, no obligation consultation.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    LT Pepper Law
    LT Pepper Law | Luke T. Pepper
    If you were operating a motor vehicle under the influence, you can be charged. The thought being that you were dangerous to yourself even if you were on your own property with no one else around.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    Law Office of Aaron Nielson
    Law Office of Aaron Nielson | Aaron Nielson
    It depends on the law in your State. Lots of places only require that you be in physical control of the car. That could be as simple as holding the keys. Other places may require that you be on a highway or road. Either way you need an attorney to review the evidence and see if they have a valid case against you. The evidence, facts, circumstances are always important.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Yes, you can. DUI concerns "driving," not where you were driving. Consult a DUI specialist to help you in court and with the DMV.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    You don't have to be on public roadway in order to have DUI, but I have never heard of someone getting a ticket in their own driveway. You have an interesting case.You need a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law
    William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law | William C. Gosnell
    Hire a lawyer you should fight that charge.
    Answer Applies to: Tennessee
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre | Jonathan T. Sarre
    In Oregon, where I practice, in order to be convicted of DUII a person must drive a motor vehicle on a public highway or "premises open to the public." The public highway part is easy: a road of some kind as long as it is maintained by a government entity. "Premises open to the public" is a bit trickier, but includes parking lots and other places you would expect traffic to go on or across but not a roadway. Assuming your driveway is open to you and your guests (and people like the electrical meter reader who has a limited right of access to do something - which may or may not include the police but arguably would include the cops in an emergency situation) and you have the power to exclude, say some guy who is using your property as a shortcut to work (an option probably not available to the owner of a strip mall hence "premises open to the public"), I would venture, at least in Oregon, that you cannot be convicted of DUII (but change the facts to you were out at the local bar and the police followed you but didn't actually stop you until you were on your property, then you could be convicted but only because you had earlier driven on a public roadway).
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    Ron Graham Attorney at Law
    Ron Graham Attorney at Law | Ron Graham
    Yes, you can be convicted of drunk driving even if on your own property.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    Yes. In Colorado you can get a DUI anywhere within the state - even on your own property when you don't ever touch any other land. You should still consult a lawyer to see if they can help defend you in your case. on.com
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    Law Office of Michael Bialys THE DUI MAN
    Law Office of Michael Bialys THE DUI MAN | Michael Bialys
    You can be charged with a DUI on your own property. All they have to prove is that you operated a motor vehicle with .08 or more in your system. Unfortunately being in your property is not a defense.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/24/2012
    Law Office of Michael Brodsky
    Law Office of Michael Brodsky | Michael Brodsky
    A DUI charge normally involves driving on public roadways, not on private property. Please contact me for further assistance.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    That would depend on the nature of your driveway and whether it is open to the public.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    Tomas M. Flores, Esq.
    Tomas M. Flores, Esq. | Tomas M. Flores
    Yes - the fact that you were on private property is not a defense. However, it could be used as a mitigation factor when negotiating with the district attorney's office.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/24/2011
    The Law Offices of Jason Chan
    The Law Offices of Jason Chan | Jason Chan
    You can still be charged. The state will have to prove public way in Massachusetts.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 1/24/2011
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