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Wisconsin Appeals Court Upholds Lawn Mower DUI

Drunk Driving
By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Don't say we didn't warn you. You can get a DUI in a motorized La-Z-Boy. So of course you can get a DUI on a riding lawn mower. In Idaho. In North Carolina. And now, in Wisconsin, too.

An appeals court in the Badger State recently ruled that operating a riding mower while drunk carries the same penalties as driving a car while intoxicated, according to Associated Press.

Grass Mowin' or Off Roadin'?

Keith argued that his Husqvarna riding lawnmower was akin an all-terrain vehicle than a motor vehicle, as ATVs are not regulated under the same OWI, or "Operating While Intoxicated," laws. His argument hinged, partially, on how those statutes define ATVs and their seating arrangement.

"Regardless of whether commercial manufacturers have changed their designs and now market all-terrain vehicles with step-through seating, we must defer to our legislature's choice to define an 'all-terrain vehicle' as having straddle seating, among other attributes," appeals court Judge Thomas Hruz wrote. "And when Shoeder used the riding mower in the capacity he did—i.e., to travel from a tavern on a public roadway — and while he was intoxicated, it seems far from absurd to conclude the legislature would want such a dangerous use prohibited."

No One's First Rodeo

Shoeder should know from state OWI statutes. This was his fourth drunk driving offense. And while he initially tried to blame this one on brain surgery, a blood test revealed an alcohol concentration of 0.119, more than twice Wisconsin's 0.08 limit.

And, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Shoeder hasn't exactly been on his best behavior following the incident: "Since his arrest in the lawnmower incident, Shoeder has picked up several more citations in Oneida County, for disorderly conduct/motor vehicle, failing to report a boating accident, negligent boat operation and hit-and-run of an unattended vehicle."

The Journal-Sentinel also reported Shoeder sold his Pine Lake marina business last year and updated his address in court records to Fort Myers, Florida. Where, he should know, it is also illegal to drive a lawn mower while intoxicated.

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