Monday, May 9, 2011

Nothin' says "Summer" like shotgunning a beer and mowing the lawn...

Question: Can I get a DUI mowing the grass on my own property (assuming it is a riding lawn mower)? 

Answer: Some people like to party. Some people like a nicely trimmed lawn.  Some people like Uncle Sam to leave them alone when they are on their own property.  For all of those people, this blog post is for you.

Any Louisville DUI lawyer worth their salt will tell you that KRS 189A is the statute that controls DUI in Kentucky.  It is a long statute, so I will only post the pertinent sections.

(1) A person shall not operate or be in physical control of a motor vehicle anywhere in this state:
    (a) Having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more as measured by a scientifically reliable test or tests of a sample of the person's breath or blood taken within two (2) hours of cessation of operation or physical control of a motor vehicle;
       (b) While under the influence of alcohol;

There are a lot of elements, facets, ifs, ands, and what-have-yous to DUI.  For the purpose of this discussion I will concentrate on 2 portions - 1) the interpretation of the term “motor vehicle” and 2) the geographical scope of the law.

First, the question is this:  Does a riding lawn mower count as a “motor vehicle?”

Turning to the caselaw of this great Commonwealth, we find a couple of cases that are (sort of) on point.  Let’s start with mopeds.  Not surprisingly, in Adams v. Com., 275 S.W.3d 209 (Ky. Ct. App. 2008), the Kentucky Court of Appeals found that a moped is a “motor vehicle” for defining DUI offenses.  For those who think drinking and plowing sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday, I direct your attention to Nemeth v. Com., 944 S.W.2d 871 (Ky. Ct. App. 1997), wherein the same Court found that farm tractors count as motor vehicles.

Finding no case about lawn mowers (although I swear I have read one), we will turn to the reasoning in the Adams case for direction.  Without boring you to death, the Court in Adams found a moped to be a motor vehicle because it has a motor and it is a means of transporting a person.  If a Kentucky Court applied the Adams reasoning, they would most likely come to the conclusion that a riding mower is a motor vehicle - as it also has a motor and can transport a person.

But what if you are not George Jones and you have no intention of taking your Husqvarna to the local bar?  What if you intend to stay on your own property and mow your own lawn?  This question brings us to the geographic scope of the law - which is broad.

Our Kentucky Supreme Court tackled the issue of DUI on private property in Lynch v. Com., 902 S.W.2d 813, 815 (Ky. 1995).  The Court found that an arrest for DUI on private property is indeed proper.  Apparently, the first sentence of KRS 189A is read strictly, and “anywhere in the state” really means “anywhere in the state.”

So the answer is “Yes.  You can get a DUI mowing the grass on your own property.”

DUI is a serious charge.  Don’t trust your case to a lawyer who handles DUIs “every once in a while.”  If you have a DUI charge in Louisville, Lexington, Frankfort, Elizabethtown, or the surrounding areas, call an experienced Louisville DUI lawyer at Gruner & Simms, PLLC.  There is no charge for an initial consultation, so call 502.618.4949 or visit today.  

Results.  As fast as the law will allow.

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