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Understanding DUI Laws: What Counts as a “Vehicle” in Colorado

Colorado’s DUI (Driving Under the Influence) laws are designed to prevent impaired individuals from operating vehicles on the road. While the term “vehicle” may typically bring to mind cars and trucks, it’s essential to recognize that various modes of transportation, even unconventional ones, can lead to DUI charges under Colorado law.

Colorado’s Definition of a “Vehicle”

Colorado’s DUI laws state that you can face DUI charges if they operate a “vehicle” under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The legal definition of a “vehicle” in Colorado encompasses a broad range of conveyances, which include:

  • Traditional Motor Vehicles: This category encompasses standard cars, trucks, and motorcycles. DUI charges are standard in cases involving these types of vehicles.
  • Bicycles: Surprisingly, bicycles fall under the definition of a “vehicle” in Colorado. Riding a bike while under the influence can lead to DUI charges.
  • Electronic Personal Assistive Mobility Devices: Electric wheelchairs and Segways also qualify as vehicles under Colorado law. Operating these devices while impaired can result in DUI charges.
  • Other Non-Powered Devices: Non-powered wheelchairs are exempt from being classified as vehicles. However, powered devices like electronic scooters and hoverboards may meet the criteria.
  • Exemptions: Colorado law specifies that certain vehicles are not considered “vehicles” for DUI purposes. These include non-powered wheelchairs, snowmobiles, off-highway vehicles, and agricultural equipment. However, it’s essential to note that, for Express Consent purposes, many of these vehicles still qualify, potentially leading to driver’s license repercussions if you are charged with DUI.

The Case of the Horseback DUI

An intriguing case that exemplifies Colorado’s DUI laws is that of a man riding a horse while impaired. In 2013, this man was found riding his horse on the road, displaying signs of impairment. He not only forced pedestrians off the sidewalk but also carried a pistol, beer, and a Pug in his backpack.

While he faced various charges, including prohibited weapons use and reckless endangerment, he was not charged with DUI. Why? Because a horse, despite being capable of moving itself, does not qualify as a “vehicle” under Colorado law.

However, this case led to a minor charge of “animal rider on the highway under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.” It falls under a class B traffic infraction. Additionally, the man faced charges of animal cruelty for mistreating the horse during the incident.


In conclusion, understanding Colorado’s broad definition of a “vehicle” is essential, as it demonstrates that various means of transportation, including unconventional ones, can lead to DUI charges. Whether you are operating a car, bicycle, electric scooter, or even riding a horse, it’s crucial to make responsible choices and avoid impaired operation to comply with DUI laws. If you find yourself facing DUI-related charges, seeking legal counsel from experts like Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, who specialize in alcohol and drug-related driving offenses in Colorado, is advisable to navigate the complexities of your case effectively.

Do you have further questions or concerns? Call us or contact the attorneys at Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, and we will be happy to help.

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