Golfing is a popular pastime in the state of Arizona.  There are very few golf courses that are run well that do not also have the obligatory bar cart that drives around the course offering cold drinks and alcoholic beverages to the patrons.  Because of the common nature of this type of conduct, I have been asked many times if someone could get a DUI by driving a golf cart on a private golf course if they’re under the influence.

Let’s review the basic laws with regard to DUI in Arizona.

A.R.S. 28-1381. Driving or actual physical control while under the influence; trial by jury; presumptions; admissible evidence; sentencing; classification

  1. It is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle in this state under any of the following circumstances:
  2. While under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs or vapor releasing substances if the person is impaired to the slightest degree.
  3. If the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle and the alcohol concentration results from alcohol consumed either before or while driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle.
  4. While there is any drug defined in section 13-3401 or its metabolite in the person’s body.
  5. If the vehicle is a commercial motor vehicle that requires a person to obtain a commercial driver license as defined in section 28-3001 and the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more.

In order to get a DUI you must be in a vehicle. A.R.S. 28-101.58 defines “Vehicle” as a device in, on or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a public highway, excluding devices moved by human power or used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks.

So you cannot get a DUI on a bike because it is “propelled by human power” but vehicle most certainly includes a golf cart as it clearly transports and can be used on a public highway. For that matter, a horse is a vehicle under this definition.

Speculation aside, the legislature has defined a golf cart specifically as a “motor vehicle” in A.R.S. 28-101.24. “Golf cart” means a motor vehicle that has not less than three wheels in contact with the ground, that has an unladen weight of less than one thousand eight hundred pounds, that is designed to be and is operated at not more than twenty-five miles per hour and that is designed to carry not more than four persons including the driver.

Another question that arises with DUI’s is if the driving takes place on private property, can the driver still be charged with DUI?  The transportation code clearly states which violations must occur on a roadway.  For example, Arizona’s main speeding statute, A.R.S. 28-701 states: A person shall not drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances, conditions and actual and potential hazards then existing (emphasis added).  As a result, you cannot be cited for speeding if you exceed the shopping mall parking lot speed limit of 15 mph if the parking lot is the private property of the mall.  Mall security cannot pull you over and arrest you and make you fold shirts at the Gap for an hour as your punishment.  Traffic violations that require the vehicle to be on a highway specifically state something similar to the speeding statute.  DUI on the other hand, makes no mention of “driving on a public highway.”  This means you could be DUI regardless of where you are driving (golf course, parking lot, empty field, your own drive way etc…).

DUI is a serious crime. If you are charged with any DUI offense, you should contact an experienced criminal attorney and seek their advice as soon as you are being investigated or as soon after the arrest as possible.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please feel free to contact Mesa Criminal Attorney, Garrett L. Smith at 480-540-6021 log on to, or contact an attorney in your area.