Passed Out on Riding Mower? Yes, That’s a DUI Too!

riding mower dui photoA recent DUI incident in Lincoln, Nebraska reveals two aspects of the state’s drunk driving law that aren’t well known.

At the intersection of 10th and Peach Streets in Lincoln a man was found passed out by his riding mower. He’d fallen off the machine after apparently driving against the stream of traffic. Officers noticed the odor of alcohol and other signs of intoxication, so he was booked for DUI.

If you aren’t immersed in the DUI world, you might not realize that sleeping by a riding mower constitutes drunk driving. Here’s why it does:

  1. DUI isn’t just cars and trucks. One can get a DUI on a boat, a Segway, a snowmobile, or a mobility scooter. If it’s a motor vehicle, you need to be sober to control it, or else bad things happen. Nebraska’s law says, “It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or be in the actual physical control of any motor vehicle … while under the influence of alcoholic liquor or drug.” And what’s a motor vehicle? “…any vehicle propelled by any power other than muscular power.” So if you’re driving an asphalt spreader in Nebraska, skip the margaritas.
  2. DUI isn’t just driving. The Nebraska law states that “…any person who operates or is in the actual physical control of any motor vehicle while [under the influence] shall be guilty of a crime…”

Physical control is a legal term that doesn’t mean what most people think it does. You don’t need to be operating a car to be in physical control of it. If you’re drunk and asleep in the back seat, keys in your pocket, you are considered in physical control of the vehicle. The same goes if you are passed out next to your riding mower. It’s conceivable that you could wake up, still drunk, and start driving again. If you’re in a position to determine whether or how a vehicle can move, you’re in physical control. Hence the riding mower DUI.

So a drunken collapse off a riding mower is a double whammy. For that reason it’s not a bad idea to keep the concept of physical control in mind. It could come in handy if you’re planning to drink away from home. And if you’re mowing the grounds of the estate, do it sober.