A little over a week ago, two drivers were arrested for driving their all-terrain vehicles while under the influence of alcohol.
George Mooshian, 47, and Randy Hoisington, 55, both of Newport, New Hampshire were driving their ATV’s while under the influence of alcohol when Mooshian drove his ATV off of the trail and into a tree. Hoisington, who was following behind Mooshian, attempted to avoid colliding into Hoisington and rolled his ATV.
Both ATV operators were flown to the hospital for serious injuries.
Fish and Game officials responded to the incident and determined that speed and alcohol were contributing factors in both collisions. Also, neither driver was wearing a helmet at the time of the collisions.
Mooshian and Hoisington were arrested on suspicion of operating a OHRV (off-highway recreational vehicle), which is another name for an all-terrain vehicle.
Although this particular incident happened in another state, someone in California can also be charged with a California DUI for operating an ATV while intoxicated.
For those who take to the dunes or off-road trails on their ATVs, it is not uncommon to pack a cooler of beers as refreshments. To the surprise of many riders, if the beer is consumed before hopping aboard the ATV, it could land them in jail on California DUI charges.
For purposes of California DUI law, an ATV is a motor vehicle. Although California DUI law requires that a person drive a “vehicle,” California Vehicle Code Section 670 defines a “vehicle” as “a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.”
Because ATV’s are considered vehicles, drunk drivers of ATV’s are subject to the same penalties as those who are arrested for a California DUI in their vehicle; probation, up to 6 months in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, and other possible penalties.
Does it matter if the drunk ATV driver is not on a public road way? Unfortunately, no.
Off-road trails and sand dunes are considered public roadways for the purposes of California DUI law. The California Court of Appeals in the case of People v. Malvitz concluded that the legislative intent of California DUI laws was that they extend beyond the public roadways to anywhere in California including private off-road trails or dunes.