Yes, you can get a DUI for drunken lawn mower driving

Recently, a Wisconsin man lost his appeal on a fourth-offense DUI in that state. The reason he had appealed was unusual: he had been operating a riding lawn mower when police pulled him over. He wasn’t mowing his lawn when he was pulled over in 2017 — he was using the lawn mower as transportation on city streets.

He argued that he shouldn’t have been charged with DUI because the lawn mower ought to be considered an all-terrain vehicle rather than a motor vehicle. Wisconsin’s DUI statute, like Tennessee’s, prohibits operating a motorized vehicle while intoxicated.

The Court of Appeals in Wisconsin ruled that a lawn mower is, in fact, a motorized vehicle. Therefore, Wisconsin’s DUI statute covers driving a lawn mower on a city street.

The same outcome would be likely in Tennessee. Our DUI statute prohibits drivers from being “in physical control of any automobile or other motor driven vehicle on any of the public roads and highways of the state” or on any premises generally frequented by the public.

So, here in Tennessee, you are also prohibited from riding a lawn mower in a public area while intoxicated. That includes being under the influence of drugs as well as having a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher.

In any unusual situation, you need an experienced attorney

DUI laws seem pretty straightforward at first glance, but there are any number of situations where the impact of the law may not be obvious. Many people have been caught up in the law because they didn’t understand that what they were doing was prohibited. Others have been charged with DUI after driving while on legal pharmaceuticals, for example, or because a medical problem mimicked the symptoms of intoxication.

If you have been charged with DUI, especially under unusual circumstances, you may have a strong argument in your defense. An experienced DUI defense lawyer can identify whether you have a defense and present a strong argument for reducing or dismissing your charges. In many situations, DUI defense attorneys can help you limit the negative consequences of a DUI charge.

Don’t plead guilty because you think you have no choice. Discuss your case with an experienced attorney as soon as possible after you are charged.

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