DUI – Definition of a Vehicle

DUI – Definition of a Vehicle

On occasion the meaning of “vehicle” under the former DUI law § 3731 and the current law § 3802 arises as a point of contention in the defense of a DUI charge. The case law that held true under the old law presumably does the same under the new law.

“Vehicle” is defined by the Vehicle Code as “every device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except devices used exclusively upon rails or tracks. The term does not include a self-propelled wheel chair or an electrical mobility device operated by and designed for the exclusive use of a person with a mobility-related disability.”

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No case law exists addressing the meaning of the word “vehicle” under the old DUI law; however, an analysis of the word as it is addressed throughout the rest of the Vehicle Code suggests is has a very broad definition, and hence a detriment to those charged with DUI. The following items have been determined to be vehicles by the Courts:

1) Bicycle – Commonwealth v. Brown, 620 A.2d 1213 (1993); Olson v. Swain, 60 A.2d 548 (1948)

2) All-terrain vehicle – Commonwealth v. Predmore, 500 A.2d 474 (1985)

3) Snowmobile – Gallo v. J.C. Penney Cas. Ins. Co., 476 A.2d 1322 (1984)

4) Dune Buggy – Bills v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 463 A.2d 1148 (1983)

Of course, this list is not exhaustive of those devices that can be a “vehicle” for purposes of the DUI law.

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