MI State Supreme Court: Driving On Private Property Is DWI-Worthy

Driving a vehicle while intoxicated on private property is indeed a violation of Michigan DWI law, the state’s supreme court ruled in July.

The case stems from the March 2014 arrest of a Michigan man from Northville. Cops were alerted to the scene following a noise complaint. When authorities arrived, they noticed the resident beginning to back his car down the driveway.

An officer shined his flashlight in the car’s direction and it stopped. The smell of alcohol was noticeable and the suspect’s speech was reportedly slurred. After initial refusal to take a field sobriety test, a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) test administered later found the man to be 3 times the legal limit of .08.

After being charged, the Michigan man appealed his case up to the Supreme Court. According to a report from ABA Journal, Michigan state law says a person intoxicated cannot operate a motor vehicle “upon a highway or other place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles.”

The vagueness of the statute gave the man a chance to win on appeal. But the ruling did not go in the defendant’s favor, with the court ruling that a private driveway is generally regarded as a place “generally accessible to motor vehicles.”

The ruling was far from unanimous, however. According to CBS Detroit, two justices in dissent said the court should be “hesitant to assume” lawmakers intended private driveways as falling under the category of places generally accessible to motor vehicles.