A motorist was convicted of DWI for driving a riding lawnmower on Interstate Highway 55 in Terrebonne Parish. The motorist’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.258%, over three times the legal limit for intoxication in Louisiana. While driving the lawnmower, the motorist was weaving northbound in the southbound lane with the lawnmower’s lights off and collided with a motorcycle on the highway as the motorcycle approached from the opposite direction.
The driver of the lawnmower argued in court that a lawnmower is not a “motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of conveyance” as required by the Louisiana DWI statute, Louisiana Revised Statute 14:98. The motorist argued that because Louisiana law is that neither a horse or a bicycle qualifies as a “motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of conveyance” under Louisiana law, then a lawnmower should not qualify under the DWI statute. He argued that he should not be guilty of DWI.
The court disagreed and stated that because the lawnmower was self-propelled as opposed to human-powered, and because it was inanimate, that it was either a motor vehicle or a means of conveyance under the DWI statute. The court found that a “motor vehicle” means every vehicle which is self-propelled, and that “conveyance” means the act of taking or carrying from one place to another. Because the lawnmower had a motor and was capable of carrying the driver from one place to another, it was either a motor vehicle or a means of conveyance under the DWI statute.
Thus, the current state of Louisiana law is that a horse and a non-motorized bicycle are not considered to be a motor vehicle or a means of conveyance for the Louisiana DWI statute while a riding lawnmower is. The case is reported at State v. Vogel, — So.3d —-2018 WL 4568292, 2018-0174 (La. App. 1 Cir. 9/24/18).
This information has been provided for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed to constitute legal advice. Please consult your attorney in connection with any specific situation under federal and/or Louisiana law and the applicable state or local laws that may impose additional obligations on you and/or your family member. © 2019 Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law. Published January 21, 2019.