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What Can You Drive Drunk Any More?

Really, what can you drive drunk any more?

ZamboniThe DWIs I have handled this year include the usual assortment of vehicles: automobiles, trucks, snowmobiles, and boats.

But if you’re committed to drinking (or “consuming alcoholic beverages,” as the police reports say!) and to getting somewhere, there are other options . . . maybe.

A Lawnmower . . . ?

Last week, a man in Bath, NY was arrested for driving a lawnmower while intoxicated.  Yes, he stole it first, but, come on, he was drunk!  Lesson: if you’re going to do one illegal thing (drive drunk), don’t do another illegal thing first to draw attention to yourself.

La-Z-Boy . . . ?

In October, 2009, Dennis LeRoy Anderson famously pleaded guilty to DWI for operating a La-Z-Boy chair he had outfitted with a motor (and a stereo and cup holders) with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.29.

Zamboni . . . ?

On May 31, 2012, Joel Bruss was arrested for driving a Zamboni drunk with what tested as a similarly remarkable BAC of 0.32.  He, too, pleaded guilty.  Yet, in 2007 a New Jersey man was acquitted of driving a Zamboni drunk (his BAC was tested at 0.12).  Both gentlemen were operating their Zambonis within enclosed ice rinks.

New Jersey Judge Joseph Falcone ruled that a Zamboni did not meet the definition of a motor vehicle as defined by New Jersey Law.   Although the two states’ laws differ considerably in other respects, both Minnesota law and New Jersey law make it a crime to “operate” a “motor vehicle” while under the influence.  It is not known whether a Minnesota judge would reason, as Judge Falcone did, that a Zamboni is not a motor vehicle because it cannot be operated on a highway or carry passengers – both clearly specious arguments since Bruss pleaded guilty.

How About a Segway . . .?

A Segway is not a motor vehicle under Minnesota’s DWI law.  This January the Minnesota Court of Appeals so ruled when it affirmed the district (trial) court’s dismissal of a DWI against Mark Alan Greenman, for operating a Segway while intoxicated.  It ruled that a person on a Segue is a pedestrian, not a person in operation or control of a motor vehicle.   In doing so, the Court said that it was able to avoid reaching “an unreasonable and illogical result.”  I’m not entirely sure that I agree. This was Mr. Greenman’s second brush with the law for drunk-Segwaying.

Why Did It Take This Long for the Golf Cart Case?

Two pending charges: in Pasco, Florida, near Tampa, a high school cheerleader coach was arrested for driving a golf cart while intoxicated.  For someone driving a golf cart in Florida, Jamie Wichmanowski, who is only 29 years old, bucks the profile.  And at last check, Jesus O’Farril of Troy New York is awaiting court on charges of driving a backhoe while intoxicated.  He was driving the construction equipment on a city street.  That may result in a different conclusion than if he were driving it at a private construction site.

Go-Kart? No!

This gentleman was arrested for driving a go-kart drunk while celebrating the Laotian new year.  The criminal matter has yet to be resolved in this case, but his go-kart has been forfeited to the state and the resulting driver’s license revocation will likely stand.

Don’t Plead Guilty!

The theme here is that if you plead guilty, like more than 90% of Minnesotans charged with DWI do, you will be found guilty.  But there are many ways to fight a DWI, and not just silly ones based on the definition of the particular mechanism you were driving.  Testing apparatuses are fail; humans running the tests are make mistakes and, sometimes, lie; some police stops and searches are completely without constitutional justification and must be scrutinized.

Don’t do stupid things when drunk just to test the law.  But whatever you are arrested for driving drunk, a hot air balloon, a rickshaw, or your company car, give me a call before showing up in court and pleading guilty!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Can You Ride a Bicycle Drunk? | Legal Crap My Kids Ask Me - May 22, 2013

    […] while legally drunk (and started drifting into the road from the walking path). Barry Edwards, a friend and Minnesota criminal defense lawyer, has other examples, including a Zamboni, riding lawnmower, electric golf cart, and motorized […]

  2. Can You Ride a Bicycle Drunk? - Bitter Lawyer - November 21, 2013

    […] while legally drunk (and started drifting into the road from the walking path). Barry Edwards, a friend and Minnesota criminal defense lawyer, has other examples, including a Zamboni, riding lawnmower, electric golf cart, and motorized […]

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