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Can I Get a DUI on Private Property?

Posted by John Campanella | Apr 27, 2024 | 0 Comments

Yes, you can get a DUI on private property in certain situations. While DUI laws primarily apply to public roads, they may extend to private property if it's accessible to the public or if the property owner consents to enforcement.

Key Factors to Consider:

  1. Location: DUI laws vary by jurisdiction. In some places, they only apply to public roads, while in others, they may cover private property accessible to the public, like parking lots.

  2. Access to the Public: If private property, such as a parking lot or campground, is open to the public, DUI laws may still be enforced there. This means you could be charged with a DUI even though you're on private property.

  3. Property Owner Consent: Even on strictly private property, if the owner allows law enforcement to enforce DUI laws there, you could still face charges if caught driving under the influence.

Can I get a DUI in an electric Golf Cart on a Private Golf Course?  

Yes, you can potentially get a DUI while driving an electric golf cart on a private golf course. Even though it's private property, DUI laws may still apply depending on the jurisdiction and whether the property is accessible to the public. It's essential to be aware of the laws in your area and to always drive responsibly, regardless of the vehicle or location.

Are there any DUI Defenses unique to these private property situations?

Yes, there are DUI defenses that may be unique to private property situations. Some potential defenses include:

  1. Lack of Public Access: If the private property is not accessible to the public and the DUI incident occurred solely on that property, it may be argued that DUI laws shouldn't apply.

  2. Owner Consent: If the property owner did not consent to law enforcement enforcing DUI laws on their property, it could be argued that the DUI charge is invalid.

  3. Improper Police Procedure: As with any DUI case, if there were procedural errors or violations of the driver's rights during the arrest, it could weaken the prosecution's case.

  4. Non-Driving Defense: In some situations, it might be argued that the defendant wasn't actually driving the vehicle at the time of the incident, especially if they were sleeping or parked.

These defenses may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case and the laws in the jurisdiction. It's essential to consult with a qualified attorney to determine the best defense strategy for your situation.


  1. House Party: You attend a house party at your friend's place. After a few drinks, you decide to move your car from the street to the driveway. If the police arrive and find you driving under the influence on your friend's private property, you might not get a DUI since it's not a public road.

  2. Campground: You go camping at a campground where the roads are privately owned by the campground management. If you're caught driving drunk within the campground grounds, you could still face DUI charges because the area is accessible to the public.

  3. Gated Community: You live in a gated community with private roads. Even though the roads are not public, if law enforcement is permitted to enforce DUI laws within the community by the homeowners' association, you could get a DUI if caught driving drunk there.

  4. Private Ranch: You visit a friend's private ranch, which has vast stretches of land and dirt roads. If you decide to drive while intoxicated on the ranch property and law enforcement is not authorized to enforce DUI laws there, you may not receive a DUI since it's considered private property.

  5. Concert Venue Parking Lot: You attend a concert at a venue with a large parking lot. After the event, you have a few drinks and attempt to drive out of the parking lot. Since the parking lot is accessible to the public and connected to public roads, you could get a DUI if caught driving under the influence there.


In summary, while DUI laws primarily target public roads, they can also apply to private property under certain circumstances. It's crucial to be aware of the laws in your area and to always avoid driving under the influence, whether you're on public roads or private property. Stay safe and make responsible decisions behind the wheel.

About the Author

John Campanella

I have been representing people accused of drunk driving since I began practicing in 1995. I am active member of the National College of DUI Defense, a member of California DUI Lawyers Association, I am certified by the National Highway and Traffic Association for the administration of Field Sobriety Tests. I regularly attend DUI continuing education of the Bar, have tried over 35 Jury Trials, hundreds of pretrial motions and over 1000 DMV hearings all relating to DUI cases.


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