Minnesota Supreme Court rules you can legally drunk-drive Segways

Categories: Law
segways rect.jpg
In Minnesota, you can take one of these to and from bars with impunity... as long as you don't break any other laws in the process.
Now that driving a Segway while boozed is legal, who's free this weekend?

SEE ALSO: Dashboard cam shows Wisconsin man getting arrested for driving lawn mower while drunk [VIDEO]

Just kidding. It'll be way too cold for that.

Jokes aside, in a 2-1 decision issued today, the Minnesota Supreme Court threw out a drunk driving charge filed against Mark Greenman, a Medina man who was arrested last February for Segwaying while boozed. Essentially, the ruling holds that drunks on Segways are pedestrians, not drivers, and hence can't be charged with drunk driving.

MPR relays this excerpt from the majority opinion:
The DWI statutes do not define a "personal assistive mobility device," but that term is defined in the traffic-regulations chapter as "a self-balancing device with two nontandem wheels, designed to transport not more than one person, and operated by an electric propulsion system that limits the maximum speed of the device to 15 miles per hour."

A Segway meets this definition because it is a two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered device designed for use in places a car or bicycle cannot go, including in buildings. Just like Brown's scooter, the Segway is an "electric personal assistive mobility device" that is specifically excluded from chapter 169's definition of "motor vehicle."
But in his dissent, Judge Roger Klaphake argues that since Segways are self-propelled -- i.e., don't depend on human energy like manual wheelchairs do -- they are therefore vehicles. Here's an excerpt:
This statutory language is clear; it encompasses the Segway that was driven by respondent. The operative language includes "every vehicle that is self-propelled," and excludes only "vehicle[s] moved solely by human power." Minn. Stat. § 169A.03, subd. 15. The references apply to "every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway." Minn. Stat. § 169.011, subd. 92. Because a Segway is a self-propelled vehicle or "device" that is not moved solely by human power and by which respondent could be transported upon a highway, a Segway falls within the definition of "motor vehicle" under the impaired driving code.
The Star Tribune provides a bit of background about Greenman's case:
Greenman was riding his Segway home when he was stopped by a Medina police officer just after 5 p.m. on Feb. 4, 2012, after he entered the road and twice drifted across the center line. Greenman failed field sobriety tests and a breath test revealed a 0.19 blood alcohol concentration, more than twice the legal limit for driving in Minnesota.
So the guy drove a Segway -- maximum speed 12 miles per hour -- onto a road? Okay, that might not technically be driving while drunk, but it's definitely driving while stupid.

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10 comments
MikeW
MikeW

So can someone be cited for dwi on a motorized wheelchair?  

 In 2011 the North Dakota Supreme Court upheld a dui conviction for someone on a bicycle.

stevenjtimmer
stevenjtimmer

But what about the guy in northern Minnesota who was cited for driving a recliner while intoxicated? His motorized recliner was seized and forfeited. He was robbed.

Dan Mason
Dan Mason

The dissenting opinion by judge Klaphake shows that he is a bit off his mark, you can't take a 12 MPH Segway onto the highway.

Brad Michael
Brad Michael

it was the Court of Appeals NOT the State Supreme Court

Cara Flora
Cara Flora

do they make these with snow tires?

Ray Anderson
Ray Anderson

ok so let me get this straight you can legally get arrested for walking intoxicated in public but you can drive one of these things drunk legally?

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