What Qualifies as a "Vehicle" in DWI Cases?

You could probably guess most of the types of vehicles that are classified as a "vehicle". However, there are a few others on the list below that qualify for DWI purposes that may surprise you.

  • Cars
  • Trucks
  • Buses
  • Motorcycles
  • Mopeds
  • Golf Carts
  • ATVs
  • Bicycles

Proving the Driver was "Impaired" 

In a Mecklenburg County DWI trial, the State must establish that you were under the influence of an impairing substance which is defined as alcohol, a controlled substance, or any other drug or psychoactive substance capable of impairing a person’s physical or mental faculties. This may even include a lawfully prescribed drug taken within the prescribed dosage.

These are two different ways the State may attempt to establish that you were under the influence of one of these impairing substances:

  1. The State may show that you had an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. This is typically done by admitting the results of any chemical analysis (i.e. breath test or blood test) during trial.
  2. The State may demonstrate that you were appreciably impaired. This means that your mental or physical condition, or both, were capable of being perceived as impaired. This is normally done through numerous pieces of evidence, including your bad driving, poor performance on field sobriety tests (i.e. HGN, One Leg Stand, and Walk and Turn), and post stop cues such as slurred speech, odor of alcohol, difficulty exiting the vehicle, and more.

Proving the DWI Occurred in a "Public Vehicular Area" in North Carolina  

The wording in North Carolina's DWI laws regarding where you were driving while impaired is blatantly broad. A public vehicular area or PVA encompasses almost any public location used for vehicular travel. For example, you could be charged for DWI in a driveway, alley, cart path, drive-in theater, gas station, beach area used by the public for vehicular travel, private property posted as a PVA, and parking lot of any hospital, college, university, school, or church.

Highways and streets essentially mean the same thing and include all property in a roadway that is open for use by the public for purposes of vehicular travel. While incredibly broad, in terms of DWI law, highways and streets likely do not include roads under construction, private roads, or roads that are not owned or maintained by the government.

Howard W. Long, II
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Charlotte Criminal Defense and DWI Lawyer