DUI charges are not anything to be taken lightly, especially in Spartanburg, SC. There is a gray area when it comes to what is considered a vehicle in the eyes of the law though. Can you be charged with a DUI while using a motorized wheelchair?
Rare but Possible
To answer the question in a simple form, yes, you can be arrested for operating a motorized wheelchair under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
There have been cases across the United States and all over the world where occupants requiring a motorized wheelchair for mobility have been arrested and charged with a DUI.
This isn’t something that happens often, but it has happened. Most wheelchairs fall under pedestrian laws, so receiving a charge for public intoxication is more likely than a DUI.
Unfortunately, there is no umbrella law for the operation of motorized wheelchairs and the consumption of alcohol like there is with automobiles. On the Federal level, they do not recognize motorized wheelchairs as vehicles. But there is also the breakdown of the state, county, and city-level that could contradict this.
As long as you are not a danger to yourself or anyone else, and you aren’t driving the wheelchair erratically, there is a chance that a police officer is not even going to know that you have consumed alcohol.
Under the rare circumstance that you find yourself being arrested for a DUI while operating your motorized wheelchair, call a Spartanburg DUI attorney to handle your case.
DUI in the State of South Carolina
While a DUI conviction for operating a motorized wheelchair may not be the most common method of arrest, it doesn’t change that South Carolina has some pretty hefty DUI penalties.
For a BAC of .10 or lower:
First Offense- Minimum of 48 hours in jail with a maximum sentence of 30 days. Fines could be up to $400 plus court costs.
Second Offense- Minimum of 5 days to a maximum of 1 year in jail. Fines range from $2,100 to $5,100 plus court costs.
Third Offense- Minimum of 60 days to a maximum of 3 years in jail. Fines range from $3,800 to $6,300 plus court costs.
Fourth Offense- Minimum of 1 to 5 years in jail.
For a BAC of .10 to .15:
First Offense- Minimum of 72 hours to a maximum of 30 days in jail. Fines of up to $500 plus court costs.
Second Offense- Minimum of 30 days to a maximum of 2 years in jail. Fines of $2,500 to $5,500 plus court costs.
Third Offense- Minimum of 90 days to a maximum of 4 years in jail. Fines of $5,000 to $7,500 plus court costs.
Fourth Offense- Minimum of 2 to 6 years in jail.
For BAC of .16 and up:
First Offense- Minimum of 30 days to a maximum of 90 days in jail. Fines of up to $1000 plus court costs.
Second Offense- Minimum of 90 days to a maximum of 3 years in jail. Fines of $3,500 to $6,500 plus court costs.
Third Offense- Minimum of 6 months to a maximum of 5 years in jail. Fines of $7,500 to $10,000 plus court costs.
Fourth Offense- Minimum of 3 to 7 years in jail.
All charges carry license suspension for a general length of time. There is one part of the DUI laws that cannot be enforced if there is no primary vehicle for the convicted party, which is the installation of the ignition interlock device.
Ignition interlock devices are not legally allowed to be installed on anything other than an automobile. It is not possible to add one on to a motorized wheelchair due to the fact that those who are disabled require it for general transportation means, not just on the roadway.
Contact a Spartanburg DUI Attorney if You’ve Been Charged
Let’s say that you are the lucky individual in a motorized wheelchair that finds yourself arrested in Spartanburg for a DUI. What should you do?
First of all, don’t admit guilt. You have the right to remain silent and you should invoke that right. If you are disabled you are not going to be able to submit to a field sobriety test, so the only thing that can be administered is a breathalyzer test. Refusal of this can have consequences, but it is your right to deny it initially.
Secondly, call a Spartanburg DUI attorney. An experienced DUI law firm in Spartanburg, SC is going to be able to see all of the evidence that prompted the arrest and the charge and determine what defense is going to be needed to get the charges reduced or dropped.