Q&A: Is a ELECTRIC PERSONAL ASSISTIVE MOBILITY DEVICE (electric wheelchair) considered a vehicle in Texas?

Posted on 13. Sep, 2010 by Rise and Recline Chair in rise and recline chair

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4 Responses to “Q&A: Is a ELECTRIC PERSONAL ASSISTIVE MOBILITY DEVICE (electric wheelchair) considered a vehicle in Texas?”

  1. Mrs. WC

    13. Sep, 2010

    I work in a small Texas town (with few sidewalks) where mobility chairs are used frequently by the elderly and handicapped to go shopping or just to get out. Since you don’t need a license to operate one of those, I don’t think it can be considered a vehicle. Since DWI stands for DRIVING while intoxicated, and the chairs aren’t considered motor vehicles, I don’t think DRIVING can apply either.

    Probably the best thing you could cite someone for who was operating one of those under the influence is public intoxication and maybe reckless endangerment. After all, if he’s weaving all over, he is endangering himself and others.

    Hope this helps.

  2. ron_mexico

    13. Sep, 2010

    No, not for purposes of DWI. Keep in mind that DWI is covered by the Texas Penal Code. The Texas Transportation Code is not relevant for DWI.

    Driving while intoxicated is covered under Section 49.04 of the Texas Penal Code, which refers to a “motor vehicle”. Section 49.01 refers us to Section 32.34(a) for the definition of a “motor vehicle”.

    Section 32.34(a) of the Texas Penal Code defines “motor vehicle” as “a device in, on, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a highway, except a device used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks.”

    Obviously, an electric wheelchair cannot transport a person on a highway, so it’s not a motor vehicle according to the Texas Penal Code.

    http://tlo2.tlc.state.tx.us/statutes/pe.toc.htm

  3. raichasays

    13. Sep, 2010

    I think the answer is in 551.202. At the end of this section, it states that operators of Electric Personal Assistive Mobiility Devices are subject to the laws governing bicycles. So, a drunk in a EPAM is the same as a drunk on a bicycle for purposes of citing for being under the influence:

    Sec. 551.202. OPERATION ON ROADWAY. (a) A person may operate an electric personal assistive mobility device on a residential street, roadway, or public highway with a speed limit of 30 miles per hour or less only:
    (1) while making a direct crossing of a highway in a marked or unmarked crosswalk;
    (2) where no sidewalk is available; or
    (3) when so directed by a traffic control device or by a law enforcement officer.
    (b) A person may operate an electric personal assistive mobility device on a path set aside for the exclusive operation of bicycles.
    (c) Any person operating an electric personal assistive mobility device on a residential street, roadway, or public highway shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand edge.
    (d) Except as otherwise provided by this section, provisions of this title applicable to the operation of bicycles apply to the operation of electric personal assistive mobility devices.
    Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1318, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

  4. taylorevel101

    13. Sep, 2010

    I worked with a guy who is in a wheelchair and he drank like a fish. Asked him this same question one time and he said there were no worries for a DWI/DUI because the Supreme Court had found DUI’s to those for using their wheelchair uncon., however public intoxication, etc. are citations in the alternative.