People often think that they cannot be charged with drunk driving if they are on private property. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case.
Section 625 of the Michigan Vehicle Code states that it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle in any place that is open to the public or accessible to other vehicles if you are impaired or intoxicated. In other words, the simple fact that you were on “private property” will not stop police from investigating and arresting you for drunk driving.
Most roadways are publically owned, meaning they are owned and maintained by the government. The driveways that lead to our homes, as well as the paved areas and corridors that connect commercial properties, are generally privately owned. In other words, when you drive on your own or someone else’s driveway or within the parking lot of a business, restaurant, or bar, you technically are driving on private property. However, these areas are open and accessible to other vehicles, which means they are fair game for drunk driving stops.
When it comes to defending an operating while intoxicated (OWI) charge, the fact of whether it occurred on private or public property has no real bearing on the case. Rather, the prosecution will have to prove that the area in which you were driving was open and accessible to the public. If the state cannot show this beyond a reasonable doubt, then the judge or jury should not find you guilty of the charge.