Off-Road Vehicles And DUIs

Canada’s DUI laws exist to protect people; potential victims of drinking and driving accidents, and the drivers themselves. Trying to protect innocent bystanders is one of the most important reasons these laws are in place, but a focus on this might lead you to believe that if you’re in no danger of harming bystanders, the laws of drinking and driving won’t apply to you. This is often the case with people who use off-road vehicles; after all, if you’re off-roading in the wilderness, how can anyone else be at risk? Nonetheless, Canada’s DUI laws do apply to off-road vehicles, so you should never drink while off-roading.

What exactly are off-road vehicles (ORVs)? Manitoba Public Insurance has a brochure about ORVs that lists what types of vehicles fit the bill. ATVs, snowmobiles, dirt bikes and buggies all fit the bill. Golf carts are fortunately excluded, which is why you can still have a beer or two out on the golf course. That pamphlet is definitely worth perusing; it gives a lot of details about where you can drive ORVs, what emergency supplies you should have on-hand, how to insure ORVs, and a variety of tips and tricks for driving your vehicle appropriately. Where it’s a bit sparse is on the rules of ORVs and DUIs.

The short answer is that all the rules that apply to your normal vehicle apply to ORVs. You can have your license suspended if you drink and drive an ORV, and you can face fines and criminal charges. These rules apply everywhere, even if you’re only using your vehicle on your own property. That also means that if you’ve already got a DUI, and your license has been suspended, you can’t operate ORVs, even on your own property. When your license is suspended, you can’t operate motor vehicles, period. No cars, no boats, no buggies.

Laws that pertain to open liquor and cannabis also apply to your ORVs. You must store open or unsealed liquor in a sealed compartment away from the driver’s seat of your ORV; cannabis must also be stored in such a compartment. In this way, the cannabis law differs from the liquor law; unopened and sealed cannabis must still be placed in a compartment away from the driver, while these rules do not apply for sealed liquor.

The importance of not getting a DUI can’t be understated; if you get your license suspended, you can’t even use your own ORVs on your own property. There can also be fines and a criminal record; DUIs are to be avoided at all costs. Of course, that starts by knowing the law and not driving while impaired; many folks don’t realize, however, that ORVs fall under the impaired driving rules. If you wind up with a DUI charge, because of ORVs or anything else, your best bet is to get an impaired driving defense lawyer. Understanding the law and the defenses available is the best way to avoid criminal conviction.