Man Arrested After Road Trip on Riding Lawn Mower
Before you hop on your riding mower to do an errand, be sure to check whether your state considers it a motor vehicle: If it does, you could be ticketed if you’re caught driving it without a license.
Catch Me If You Can
A man in Canton, Ohio found out the hard way when he was stopped at a checkpoint on Sept. 27 while riding his fancy mower. He was planning to pick up a pizza, he told officers, who ticketed him for driving without a license when he pulled up to the checkpoint on a highway in Stark County.
While he wasn’t drunk, there were outstanding warrants out for his arrest, so he was taken into custody and his mower was towed.
While riding mowers used on public roads are considered motor vehicles in some states, like Ohio, in others they may not be. Take Georgia, for instance: In 2009, that state’s supreme court overturned the conviction of a man for felony motor vehicle theft for stealing a riding mower.
A riding mower is not a motor vehicle, said that court, at least as far as the auto theft statute went.
And in North Carolina, if a riding mower crashes into your car, good luck getting your insurance to cover an uninsured motorist accident: In that state, riding mowers are excluded from the definition of motor vehicles for insurance purposes.
DUI, Different Story
However, for purposes of DUI laws, prosecutors could still go after drunk lawn mower riders if they take to the streets. And prosecutors have done so, in states from West Virginia to Oregon, in cases involving not only lawn mowers but also golf carts and tricycles.
A Pennsylvania man, for instance, was charged with DUI in September after being picked up on his riding mower. He told police he’d had some beers with friends after cutting his grass but decided he was too drunk to drive his truck. He took the mower instead.
There’s even a drunken lawn mower driver who’s attained a sort of celebrity status: Steve Jessup, of Amite, La., is known for his drunken arrests on his mower and has parlayed videos of them into a website and a Facebook page featuring his antics.
Jessup will have his hands full if he continues riding his lawn mower while sloshed: Cops in Lafourche Parish outside New Orleans are not above tracking down mowers on the highways, as yet another incident involving a drunkard on a Deere from 2011 shows.