Is It Legal To Drink and Drive on Private Property in Georgia?

Posted by Richard Lawson | May 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

It is well understood that operating a motor vehicle while drunk is illegal. However, when the subject of driving on private property comes into play, the concept becomes a bit more ambiguous. While drunk driving on private property still carries many of the same inherent risks and dangers of doing so in a public space, some may infer that the danger is significantly lessened, or that private property allows for a more ‘controlled environment' in comparison to that of a public space. Furthermore, it seems less probable that law enforcement could casually patrol private property without prior probable cause.

While some states use intentionally broad language in their DUI law to explicitly avoid the ambiguity of this question, others use less clear language. Georgia law O.C.G.A. §40-6-3 prohibits drunk driving on "highways and elsewhere throughout the state." The definition of private property itself suffers from a bit of ambiguity, however the law states that law enforcement has authority to make arrests on private property when solicited.

The provisions of this chapter shall apply to a vehicle operated on any private property of this state which fronts on coastal marshlands or estuarine area....provided the owner of the private property files with the local law enforcement agency having primary jurisdiction to enforce the uniform rules of the road in such area.

All persons operating vehicles on said roads, streets, and common areas shall be subject to all state and local traffic laws and regulations the same as if said private roads and streets were public roads and streets.

Furthermore, the law states that any state or local law enforcement enforcing the rules of the road will have concurrent jurisdiction with the local law enforcement when enforcing these rules on private property.

With this in mind, the law appears to be fairly cut and dry - it is illegal to drink and drive both off and on one's private property. In doing so one risks arrest and prosecution on those charges. However, there is a law requiring that "at least 30 days' prior notice be given to users of said private roads, streets, and common areas by publication in the newspapers and by posting signs along the private roads and streets specifying that state and local law enforcement agencies will be enforcing the uniform rules of the road on said private roads, streets, and common areas.” Therefore, law enforcement has jurisdiction on private property, but with certain limitations. Precisely because the definition of private property can be vague, police can potentially initiate a stop anywhere that's accessible to other motorists - so long as they have grounds to assume or suspect you are driving under the influence.

In sum, operating drunk on private property is illegal and not a valid defense to DUI charges in Georgia. Whether the motorist operated a monster truck, golf cart, bicycle or electric wheelchair - if they were drunk, they could face charges.

If you or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence in Georgia - on private property or elsewhere - you will require exceptional legal defense from a competent Georgia DUI attorney. The team at the Law Offices of Richard Lawson is available to give free consultations, 24 hours a day 7 days. Let Richard Lawson put his 20 years of experience in DUI litigation to work for you. Call day or contact him online.

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Richard Lawson

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