Oregon Appellate Court Reverses Wheelchair DUI Conviction

Can you get a DUI in a motorized wheelchair?  The Oregon Appellate Court has said no.

From the Associated Press:

The Oregon Court of Appeals has reversed the conviction of a wheelchair user who had been found guilty of driving under the influence of intoxicants.

James Greene of Waldport was arrested in November 2012 after entering a crosswalk in a motorized wheelchair and striking the side of a moving pickup. Police determined he was impaired by alcohol and drugs, and a jury convicted him of drunken driving.

In his appeal, Greene argued that he should have been considered a pedestrian, not subject to the DUI law.

The state disagreed, pointing to a law that treats motorized wheelchairs like bicycles when they are driven on bike lanes.

In its opinion Thursday, the Appeals Court decided legislators only intended to have wheelchairs treated like bicycles in that narrow circumstance, and users should be considered pedestrians when in a crosswalk.

What about Illinois?  It is an open question.  The Illinois Vehicle Code defines a vehicle for DUI purposes as:

Every device, in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway or requiring a certificate of title under Section 3-101(d) of this Code, except devices moved by human power, devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks and snowmobiles as defined in the Snowmobile Registration and Safety Act.

For the purposes of this Code, unless otherwise prescribed, a device shall be considered to be a vehicle until such time it either comes within the definition of a junk vehicle, as defined under this Code, or a junking certificate is issued for it.
In Illinois, a motorized wheelchair could qualify as a motorized vehicle.  But common sense has prevailed, as I am not aware of any such prosecution ever being brought.

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