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DUI While Crippled?

Woman in wheelchair charged with DUI in Cumberland County

Reviewed by Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Criminal Law Division Leader, Harrisburg, PA

This one goes in the category of "Really...?" Some headlines just grab you and beg you to discuss the subject area.

Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2011,
By MONICA VON DOBENECK, The Patriot-NewsThe Patriot-News
Middlesex Township police have charged a woman riding a motorized wheelchair with driving under the influence of alcohol following an incident early this morning. Police said Connie Lebo, 63, was riding around the Country Manor mobile home park while intoxicated. While the park is private property, police have an agreement with the owner to enforce traffic laws there.

The Motor Vehicle Code defines a "motor vehicle" and "vehicle" as follows:

"Motor vehicle." A vehicle which is self-propelled except an electric personal assistive mobility device or a vehicle which is propelled solely by human power.

"Vehicle." 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.

So, we've charged a crippled lady in a motorized wheel chair or an electric personal assistive mobility device (EPAMD) with DUI. DUI means the person is operating a vehicle and is incapable of safe driving either because they've drank too much or are under the influence of drug. First, I'm not sure this meets the definition because it's excepted from the definitions of both motor vehicle and vehicle. Next, "really?" Some crippled woman, God bless her, wants to get drunk and ride around a trailer park because that's all she has left. I say let her. What's the harm we're seeking to prevent...forgetting the wheelchair?

If you have questions about a DUI, contact the experienced team at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC. We're located in Millersburg and Harrisburg.