In Virginia, a person can be charged with a DUI for drinking and driving on private property. Last week, the West Virginia Supreme Court interpreted West Virginia DUI law the same way.
Chief Justice Menis Ketchum wrote in the majority opinion “The Legislature’s definition of the phrase ‘in this State’ … extends the reach of our driving-under-the-influence laws to any individual driving a vehicle within the physical boundaries of West Virginia, even if the vehicle is driven only upon private property not open to the general public.”
In 2012, Joshua Beckett was driving an ATV in a field on farmland owned by his family. After a crash, he was hospitalized and blood was taken. His BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) was 0.17. The legal limit in West Virginia is 0.08.
Beckett’s DUI lawyer argued that his license couldn’t be suspended because he was driving the ATV on private, family-owned land, the Supreme Court opinion states. He argued that there was also no evidence of him driving on a public street or highway.
So please be aware that now, in both West Virginia and Virginia, people can be arrested for DUI or DWI and have their driver’s licenses taken away even if they’re driving on private property.
Alex Gordon is a criminal defense attorney that has more than 16 years of experience representing people in Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and Prince William County. He has been practicing law for more than 22 years and is member of the Florida, Georgia, and the Virginia State Bar. The Gordon Law Firm has helped more than 2500 people accused of Reckless Driving and DUI in Virginia.