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Can I Drink and Drive on Private Property?

Posted by Christopher Martens | Aug 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

California DUI law clearly states it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is the intent of California DUI laws to prevent anyone from posing a risk to themselves or others while driving under the influence. Driving on private property, regardless of who else could possibly be there and whether or not other cars may be found on the property, you still pose a risk to yourself and potentially any bystanders. For this reason, it is plausible that you could be arrested and charged with a DUI while operating a motor vehicle on any property, be it private or public. However, it is certainly less likely to be pulled over or stopped by an officer on private property than on a public road. Law enforcement officials do not patrol most private property areas nor can they set up DUI checkpoints on private property. California DUI laws are fairly far reaching, prohibiting driving motor vehicles under the influence anywhere or time. There are certain private property areas where police are known to watch for driving under the influence, like private property around bars, stadiums, clubs or other venues where alcohol is served, generally in high quantities. Note these are all areas privately owned, in most cases, however they are open to use by the general public, not just the owners of the property. In this respect, they are semi-public areas and thus areas where all drivers should be held to the same standard. Similarly, the difference between private and public property is not always clear, making only enforcing DUI laws on public roadways difficult. Law enforcement officers are predominately concerned with making all public driving areas safe, including private property areas. If the private property in question is your own privately owned roadway on which you have no trespassing signs, the case may be in your favor if an officer came on your property without probable cause to do so. For the most part, however, police officers will not be stationed or patrolling a private road. If you are drinking and driving on private property, where it is highly unlikely an officer would be present, you might be able to get away with drinking and driving, however it is still an illegal and dangerous activity. This part of DUI laws, that deal with the jurisdiction of the reach of the law, can be complex and filled with loopholes and exceptions. DUI convictions aside, any case that deals with a jurisdictional matter should be reviewed by an attorney. If you are facing DUI charges but you feel the circumstances of the case mitigate the threat you posed to society, speak to an experienced DUI defense attorney right away. A skilled attorney may be able to have your charge dismissed or successfully obtain you a plea bargain if you were at the legal limit, this would be your first offense, were otherwise driving safely and were driving on a roadway that is not accessible to any other cars. You may be able to walk away with a wet reckless driving charge, considering these circumstances.

Apart from getting a DUI, if you hurt someone on private property, either yours or someone else's, as a result of your driving under the influence, you could face a major insurance battle ahead of you. For this reason, it is generally never advisable to drive while impaired at any time or any place. Even on private property, if you hurt someone or their property as a result of your drinking and driving, you may find yourself involved in a civil suit where you will have little defense for your actions. The person injured has up to two years to file a suit against you so even if they don't do it right away, you could face that down the road. If the person seeking damages wins the case, they can collect the cost of any health care treatment they required, costs of repair to their property and in some cases lost wages as a result of their injury and even their attorney's fees. You may also be found liable to compensate them for their pain and suffering incurred from the accident, which is called a non-economic damage. Your auto insurance may cover some or all of this but your rates will go up significantly if they do. Your homeowner's insurance might also cover these damages but again, your rates could go up and you would have to deal with the hassle of a civil case. In any case, driving under the influence is generally not advisable on any property. However, you may be able to obtain a favorable outcome for your case in certain circumstances.

If you are facing DUI charges in Tulare, Kings or Fresno counties, and were on private property when you were arrested, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can help. Experienced in DUI and criminal defense, attorney Christopher Martens can fight aggressively for your case and can ensure your rights are defended and you are charged fairly and justly given the circumstances of your case. Contact our Visalia or Hanford offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss your options for defending your case.

About the Author

Christopher Martens

Bio Visalia and Bakersfield criminal defense attorney who has dedicated his life to helping those who have been accused of crimes or injured due to the negligence of others.


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