Maine Legal Group Logo
Main Office
Satellite Office
Consultations by Appointment Only

West Virginia Convicts Man for Driving Drunk on Private Property

A man driving and drinking a beer at the same time, representing how one can benefit from calling a Portland criminal defense lawyer.

It seems like basic logic that the state police can only pull you over and arrest you for operating under the influence (OUI) if you’re on a public road. When you’re on your own property, they can’t touch you because, so long as you’re on your property, you can do pretty much whatever you want.

Not so, in some other states. In fact, the West Virginia Supreme Court just joined California as one of the states where you can be arrested for OUI without ever leaving the bounds of your yard. Maine is also a state where you can be arrested for drunk driving on your home property.

West Virginia Allows OUI Arrests on Private Property

Late one night in February, 2012, Joshua Beckett was driving his ATV through his parents’ farmland in Monroe County, West Virginia. Beckett crashed, got hurt, and was driven to the hospital in an ambulance. The emergency medical technician noted that Beckett’s breath had the smell of alcohol on it, and Beckett admitted to having a few drinks before getting on his ATV.

A blood test at the hospital showed that his blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.17%, over the amount required for an aggravated OUI charge in West Virginia. Beckett was arrested and charged for aggravated OUI, even though there was no evidence that he’d ever left his parents’ farmland or entered a public road.

Beckett’s case got to the Supreme Court of West Virginia, which noted that the state’s OUI law criminalizes anyone who is under the influence of alcohol and “who drives a vehicle in this state.” Back in 1980, the Supreme Court of West Virginia had decided that driving a vehicle “in this state” meant only on highways or public roads, preventing someone from being convicted for OUI when he’d been arrested for driving in a private parking lot.

However, in 1983, the West Virginia legislature changed the law. They added a definition of what it meant to drive “in this state”: “the phrase ‘in this state’ shall mean anywhere within the physical boundaries of this state, including, but not limited to, publicly maintained streets and highways…”

According to the Supreme Court of West Virginia, this new definition of “in this state” overturned the prior case, allowing Beckett to be charged and convicted for OUI, even though he never left his parents’ yard.

William T. Bly, Maine’s OUI-Defense Attorney

The news that people in West Virginia could not be subjected to criminal charges for OUI without ever leaving their property is a shocking one. However, it is clear from the court’s decision that they had their hands tied by a poorly-changed OUI statute that was amended at the height of the drunk driving scare. There are many of these laws out there on the books of numerous states, stripping people of their basic liberties for the sake of appeasing drunk driving advocacy groups and winning a few more votes for politicians.

If you have been pulled over and arrested for OUI in the state of Maine, you need a solid OUI-defense attorney on your side to make sure your charge does not turn into a costly conviction. Contact the law office of William T. Bly online or at (207) 571-8146.


Contact our office to speak with
one of our team members who will set up a confidential consultation to discuss your case.


Great group of people. Managed to get me a favorable outcome from a very bad situation. I would highly recommend this firm if you have legal troubles. Top notch performance!!

Dave Allen

So thankful I chose this team to represent me. They’re the best, hands down. Nathan Hitchcock proved my innocence not once but TWICE, including a trial by jury. I have a family in law enforcement who told me “Bill Bly and his team are the best. If I would recommend anyone, it would be them.”

Brandon Albert





Ready to Get Started? Get In Touch With Us Today!

If you are facing criminal charges in Maine, the attorneys at The Maine Criminal Defense Group are here to help. Call our office to speak with one of our team members, who will discuss your case with you and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys.

Get to Know Our Group
Maine Legal Group

We are a boutique law firm, and we stand out by prioritizing our clients’ well-being. At The Maine Legal Group, our experienced team offers personalized attention in both criminal defense and divorce cases.

The Maine Criminal Defense Group

The Maine Criminal Defense Group adeptly handles all areas of criminal defense practice, including experienced and skilled legal representation for state and federal charges.

The Maine Divorce Group

The Maine Divorce Group empowers individuals skillfully navigating divorce with compassionate guidance, ensuring a brighter future through the challenges of the process.