DWI – Wheelchair is not a motor vehicle

30 Jun

A recent Minnesota Court of Appeals case held that an electric scooter used by a physically disabled man is not a motor vehicle for DWI purposes. As a result, the Court overturned his conviction for 3rd Degree DWI.

The definition of motor vehicles includes “every vehicle that is self-propelled”. But, pedestrians are defined as “any person afoot or in a wheelchair.” The definition of wheelchair includes “any manual or motorized wheelchair, scooter, tricycle, or similar device used by a disabled person as a substitute for walking.” In large part, these definitions provided the basis for the Court’s ruling.   

What constitutes a ‘motor vehicle’, though, is not as cut-and-dry as these definitions may make it seem, and will even cover the absurd. For instance, a Minnesotaman pleaded guilty to DWI for driving home a customized, motorized La-Z-Boy with a 0.29 blood alcohol concentration level. Similarly, a riding lawnmower has proven to be a motor vehicle for DWI purposes.

The bottom line is that if you are charged with operating a motor vehicle, whatever kind of motor vehicle it may be, while intoxicated, it is important to hire counsel to guide you through the process and present the best defenses available. 

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This blog entry is written by James Gempeler, an associate at Thomsen Nybeck. James practices in the litigation area of the firm with a focus on general civil litigation, real estate litigation, construction litigation and criminal law, particularly as the prosecutor for the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

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2 Responses to “DWI – Wheelchair is not a motor vehicle”

  1. social security dsability attorney October 13, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Correct! The wheelchair is not regarded as a “motor vehicle”, especially when driving while intoxicated. Thank you for pointing and clearing the issue out. Thank goodness for the man who was initially charged of DWI, too.

    social security disability attorney

  2. social security disability attorney October 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    It’s pretty much confusing at first to determine which of the motor vehicles are for DWI purposes. Good thing wheelchairs are not included.

    social security disability attorney

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