Is a Segway a motor vehicle under Minnesota drunk driving laws?

In Minnesota, a driver is not limited to a car or truck when it comes to being accused of driving while intoxicated. In fact, in the past, drivers in the state have been arrested for DWI for operating non-motor vehicles, such as lawn mowers. However, a recent case won by a Medina, Minnesota, man highlights the fact that Segways do not fall under the category of motor vehicle in the state.

Recently, the Minnesota Court of Appeals agreed with the 48-year-old that his Segway does not meet the legal definition of a motor vehicle under drunk driving-related laws. This ruling was consistent with the earlier dismissal of the DWI charge by a Hennepin County judge.

In looking at what happened, it was almost a year ago when the 48-year-old Medina man was pulled over on his Segway. He was given a breath test, which showed he had a blood alcohol content of 0.09 percent. This was above the state's legal driving limit, and he was arrested and subsequently charged with DWI.

The man was not worried as he had already once before beaten a DWI charge on his Segway. In that case, he had broken his ankle and was using the Segway to get around. He claimed the only reason he was pulled over was due to not having proper reflectors, not because of poor driving. A judge agreed and the charges were dismissed.

However, in this most recent case, the man did not have a broken ankle and was not using the Segway for medical reasons. This is why the case was appealed. But, the appeals court still ruled that Segways do not meet the legal definition of a motor vehicle, and are rather "electric personal assistive mobility devices." The court went on to say that disability is in no way connected to the use of these mobility devices.

For a Minnesota reading this post, the take away message is that it is important to know the ins and outs of drunk driving laws in Minnesota. In some ways, having a clear grasp of the laws and proper procedures may end up going a long ways to defending against a DWI charge.

Source: Star Tribune, "Appeals court agrees: No DWI charge for Medina Segway driver," Abby Simons, Jan. 22, 2013

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