People have the wrong idea about DUI arrests. They think that they can only face impaired driving charges if they’re caught in a car or truck driving under the influence. But the fact is, a motor vehicle is a motor vehicle. Riding mowers, scooters, mopeds, snowmobiles, and golf carts can land you with a DUI charge if you operate them while intoxicated.
Golf carts? Those slow, electric, harmless things that people use to trundle between holes on the green?
It happened in Nova Scotia not long ago. RCMP Traffic Services picked up a man who was driving a golf cart on a public road. He was intoxicated and carrying an open container of alcohol.
The man was booked for impaired driving, an action that might surprise some. But it makes perfect sense.
First of all, Nova Scotia law forbids operating a motor vehicle while impaired. And Nova Scotia is pretty clear on the subject of what a motor vehicle is: a vehicle propelled by any power except muscular power (other than a Segway, which is termed a “personal transporter”).
Golf carts fall under that category, and for a reason. You might not be able to flatten an SUV with one, but you can cause harm. An encounter with a small child could be fatal. Fifteen miles an hour is enough speed to cause injuries in anyone.
And in this case, the driver had gone onto a public road, where he might have been killed by a fast-moving car or truck. Or he might have caused another vehicle to swerve and crash. So what looks like comical news item is really a case of a disaster averted.
What happens now? A Nova Scotia DUI (and golf cart or not, this is a standard DUI) carries certain penalties. The offender is be assessed for alcohol dependency. Depending on the outcome of the assessment, the trial, and prior incidents, he may be required to use an ignition interlock, a device which prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
No, the device will not be placed on the golf cart, but on the offender’s regular vehicle.
A conviction also carries a fine of between $600 and $2000, and a possible requirement to re-take driver’s tests.
So even something as silly as a golf cart DUI is a serious deal. It’s a motor vehicle. Have some respect – don’t drink and drive it.