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Can I Get a DWI/DUI While Operating a Boat, Segway, or Snowmobile?

The short answer is "it depends."

Minnesota's DWI statute provides that it is a crime to be under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance while operating various modes of transportation. The statute itself defines the modes of transportation that carry risk of DWI charges, and Minnesota courts have provided clarification as to whether certain modes of transportation fall under a specific statutory definition. This blog will explore some of the statutory definitions and also discuss some of the relevant court cases.

First, it is a crime to be driving a "motor vehicle" under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. Minnesota DWI law defines "motor vehicle" as any vehicle that is self-propelled. The definition of "motor vehicle" specifically excludes a vehicle moved solely by human power. Under Minnesota's DWI law, the definition of "motor vehicle" includes cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, and the like.

This definition, however, can be a little tricky to apply. In State v. Brown, the Minnesota Court of Appeals concluded that a motorized scooter, used as a substitute for walking, is not a "motor vehicle." In State v. Greenman, the Minnesota Court of Appeals concluded that a Segway is not a "motor vehicle" for purpose of Minnesota's DWI statute. In that case, the court concluded that a Segway was not a motor vehicle because it was a two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered device designed for use in places inaccessible to cars and bikes, including the interior of buildings.

Second, it is a crime to be driving a "motorboat" under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. Minnesota law defines "motorboat" as a watercraft propelled in any manner by machinery, including watercraft temporarily equipped with detachable motors. This includes boats, personal watercrafts, and the like. In regard to motorboats, it should be pointed out that the DWI statute only criminalizes the action of operating or being in physical control of a "motorboat in operation." This term is defined and specifically provides that a motorboat is not "in operation" if it is anchored, beached, or securely fastened to a dock or other permanent mooring. A motorboat is also not "in operation" if it is being rowed or propelled other than by mechanical means.

Third, it is a crime to be operating a "snowmobile" under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. Minnesota law defines "snowmobile" as a self-propelled vehicle originally manufactured and designed for travel on snow or ice steered by skis or runners.

Finally, it is a crime to be operating an "off-highway motorcycle" under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. Minnesota law defines "off-highway motorcycle" as a motorized, off-highway vehicle traveling on two wheels and having a seat or saddle designed to be straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control. Essentially, this term includes dirt bikes.

This blog outlined some of the modes of transportation that can get you in trouble if you are operating under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance. The issues addressed in this blog are tricky. If you are arrested for or charged with a DWI while using a mode of transportation that does not include a car, truck, van, or motorcycle, you should consult with a DWI attorney to find out if the case can be beat.

Grant Borgen of Bird, Jacobsen & Stevens, P.C. handles DWI/DUI cases and is always available for a free consultation.

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