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A dangerous instrument is any instrument, article, or substance which, under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used, or threatened to be used, is highly capable of causing death or serious physical injury. The term includes a motor vehicle.
In crimes such as assaults, the use of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument enhances the level of the assault offense. Steel-toed shoes and scissors have been deemed dangerous instruments in such cases. However, unloaded or inoperable handguns have been held not to be dangerous instruments. Besides state and federal criminal laws, there are numerous local and administrative regulations, such as school board policies, prohibiting dangerous instruments on certain premises.