Can a person be charged with DWI while driving on private property? While it may not make sense to most people, the truth is that it is indeed possible.
Minnesota DWI statutes basically state that it is deemed unlawful to operate, drive, or be in control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, or any other hazardous substances.
Laws may vary from one state to another, but the language used in majority of the states’ laws does not distinguish between public areas or private property when drunk driving offenses are concerned. In most instances, law enforcement officials have the right to stop, question, and assess an individual’s ability to drive if there is reasonable suspicion that the driver is operating his or her vehicle unsafely, regardless of where the vehicle is located. If there is probable cause in such a situation, a driver may be arrested for DWI.
It may be surprising for people to learn how broadly DWI statutes apply when it comes to the setting of where an alleged offense takes place. Some states limit DWI charges to public roads and public areas. In Minnesota, however, statutes generally have broad reach, which means that these laws may possibly be imposed in private areas. It makes no difference where the vehicle was being operated, even if it was on your own property.
If someone is stopped and arrested for DWI while on private property, it can be assumed that he or she will have an acceptable defense. There are numerous individuals who have been arrested for DWI in the past who believed that they were not a threat to public safety since they were not even driving on a public roadway.
The law, however, does not differentiate between offenses occurring on private property and public roads, especially if the private property is open to vehicular use. DWI arrests may still legally occur in golf courses, convenience store parking lots, apartment complex parking lots, stadium parking lots, lawns, and private driveways. If the public is able to drive into your driveway and park, it may still be argued that the public has access—even if it is limited access—to the location.
The courts will generally interpret DWI laws in favor of the public’s safety. While the definition of drunk driving appears simple enough to understand, the truth is that DWI law can be very complex as drunk driving offenses are often fact-specific. Of course, the courts will still take numerous circumstances into account, such as whether or not the car keys were in the ignition or the vehicle was running.
It is possible to be arrested for DWI on private property, but that does not mean that nothing can be done with respect to other possible defenses. An experienced DWI attorney in your area may be able help you build a strong defense and fight your DWI charge.