Most people associate DUI charges with operating an automobile, a truck, or a motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. But in recent years, there have been countless cases of Floridians arrested for a DUI after drinking and driving a wide variety of vehicles – from motorized scooters to lawnmowers and even horses. Our DUI attorneys explain what you need to know about DUI laws in Florida and what you can do if you have been accused of operating a vehicle while under the influence.
What Counts as a ‘Vehicle’ in Florida?
In the state of Florida, motor vehicle laws have a broad definition of what counts as a ‘vehicle’. Florida statute defines it as “an automobile, motorcycle, truck, trailer, semitrailer, truck tractor and semitrailer combination, or any other vehicle operated on the roads of this state, used to transport persons or property, and propelled by power other than muscular power”.
Motorized scooters don’t seem to be considered motor vehicles and thus aren’t allowed on public roadways, whereas mopeds are allowed on public roads but require the operator to have a driver’s license and be at least 16 years old.
Can You Really Get Charged With a DUI for Driving Any Type of Vehicle in Florida – Including a Scooter?
As seen in many news stories over the past couple years, if you decide to consume alcohol above the legal limits and operate a vehicle of any kind, you are exposing yourself to the possibility of being approached by police and arrested for a DUI. Florida laws leave a lot of room for interpretation of what counts as a vehicle, but in most cases if law enforcement considers you to be a risk to yourself and/or to others by operating any vehicle while under the influence, you may still find yourself dealing with a DUI charge.
There may also be other complications that go along with that, such as if you were operating a scooter or another vehicle that is not allowed on public roadways. While riding a scooter or another similar vehicle may at first seem like a smart alternative to driving a car, the best way to avoid getting a DUI is to opt for getting a ride with a designated driver or a rideshare service.
What Are the Penalties for Getting a DUI on a Scooter in Florida?
DUI laws in Florida apply to anyone regardless of the vehicle they were operating. Penalties vary in severity depending on the age of the offender, on whether this is their first DUI and on how high their blood alcohol level (BAC) was. A BAC of 0.08% or higher is considered to be above the legal threshold for operating a vehicle.
First offenders can expect to pay a fine of $500 to $2000 and serve at least 50 hours of community service, possible jail time and license suspension. A second DUI may result in a five-year license suspension, higher fines and up to twelve months in jail, as well as the required use of an ignition interlock device for at least one year.
Why Should I Get Help From a DUI Attorney?
As you know, it is best not to drink and drive. But if you were trying to avoid getting behind the wheel of a car and still found yourself dealing with a DUI charge on a scooter or moped, there are many strategies that a DUI attorney can use to help alleviate the severity of your charges. A good DUI attorney can make the difference in your case. Contact our Tampa, FL DUI attorneys for a free case evaluation to learn your options.