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07.2014

Massachusetts Beverage Business

AtPressTime

DRUNK DRIVING ON A SEGWAY IS LEGAL

Well, at least in Minnesota it is.  The Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled that hopping on your Segway after you’ve had a few drinks is not driving drunk under the state’s law – because a Segway is not a motor vehicle.  Last February, Mark Greenman was stopped by police and charged with driving while impaired after an officer saw his Segway drifting twice across the center line in the road, according to the court ruling.  His blood alcohol level was .19, more than twice the legal limit of .O8, the ruling said. Greenman (naturally) said that he was pleased with the judges’ decision tossing the charges against him.

In making its ruling, the Court of Appeals relied on a previous decision that involved an intoxicated disabled man driving his motorized scooter on a Grand Rapids sidewalk.  The Court of Appeals ruled in that case that the scooter was not a motor vehicle for the purposes of the law, which defines “motor vehicle” in part as “every vehicle which is self-propelled”, excluding “an electric personal assistive mobility device”. “Had the Legislature intended to prohibit drivers from operating Segways while under the influence of alcohol, the Legislature could have included a specific provision proscribing that conduct, as it has done in so many other instances,” wrote Judge Margaret Chutich for herself and Judge Natalie Hudson.  The third judge on the three-judge panel, Judge Roger Klaphake, dissented.  He wrote that “vehicle” as defined in traffic regulations includes “every device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway . . .” and is self-propelled. The Segway meets that definition, he wrote. Greenman, who is an employment attorney, has been stopped at least twice on other occasions for driving his Segway while intoxicated.  Perhaps he should try calling a cab instead.  And perhaps the Legislature should write a specific provision re-classifying a Segway as a motor vehicle.

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