A man in Colorado found out the hard way that the state’s laws, like those in many other places, could be broadly interpreted when dealing with impaired driving. Kenneth Welton says he was simply engaging in some overdue law maintenance when he was arrested by a local police officer and charged with suspicion of DUI, all while on his Craftsman lawnmower.
According to local authorities, Welton was not simply cutting grass, but was instead using the mower to bar hop along a notoriously busy stretch of road in Garden City, CO. Authorities say they received several 911 calls about the drunk man on the lawnmower and had no choice but to track him down and take him off the road.
By the time cops arrived, they claim that Welton was so drunk he was unable to stand on his own. Additionally, his speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot. Given these, and other signs of impairment, officers arrested Welton on suspected drunk driving charges and transported him to jail.
According to Welton, the cops have it all wrong and he was not using the lawnmower to move from bar to bar, but was instead taking care of overgrown weeds in the area that he’s been meaning to tend to. Welton says he wasn’t bar hopping; he was working, and claims that his mowing endangered no one. As a result, Welton feels the arrest was unwarranted and says he will fight his impaired driving charges.
Police believe the mowing was merely an excuse for Welton to have been out and about and say the man lacked a valid driver’s license, having had it revoked previously. Experts say it isn’t uncommon for those with revoked licenses to try and find creative means of getting around, including scooters, bikers or even lawnmowers. The question of whether Welton was working or instead merely trying to find a way to drink and drive without using a car will have to be decided by a judge.
Before setting out for his impaired mowing excursion, Welton should have more carefully examined his state’s drunk driving laws. Colorado laws are similar to the ones in place here in Minnesota and criminalize the drunk driving, operation or physical control of “any motor vehicle.” Court cases have routinely found that “motor vehicle” is a broad enough term to encompass a wide array of transportation options.
Minnesota statutes, (Section 169A.03) specifically defines a “motor vehicle” as being any that is “self-propelled or propelled by electric power.” Only those vehicles that are moved solely by human power are excluded. This broad definition has been applied to scooters, motorcycles, off-road vehicles and even lawnmowers. If Welton had wanted to avoid the drunk driving charges he should have stuck to a bicycle.
Source: “DUI Suspect Pulled Over While Driving Lawnmower,” published at Denver.CBSLocal.com.