Minnesota DWI law defines a “motor vehicle” as:
“Every motor vehicle that is self- propelled and every vehicle that is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires. The term includes motorboats in operation and off-road recreational vehicles, but does not include a vehicle moved solely by human power.”
Therefore, as summer approaches here in the beautiful State of Minnesota, and most of us increase our outdoor recreational activities, it is important for the Minnesota Driver to be aware of the above definition of a motor vehicle with regard to Minnesota’s DWI laws. The law defines a “motor vehicle” as any vehicle that is “self-propelled” or propelled by electric power. So, for all the golfers out there, and there are many in this State, please be advised that a golf cart does indeed fit the above criteria. This would also apply to mopeds, snow-mobiles, ATV’s, and, as the case below describes, Scooters!
In an unpublished opinion by the Minnesota Court of Appeals on April 7th, 2009 entitled State v. Stevens, The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s previous order finding that probable existed to believe a man, thought to have driven a motor- scooter, was in violation of Minnesota’s DWI Laws.
In Stevens, the police responded to the scene of an accident. At the scene, the police discovered a man lying in the middle of the road with injuries consistent with a motor-scooter accident. However, the police were unable to locate a scooter at the scene. Several people at the scene told the police that there was a red scooter lying next to the man, but it had been removed from the scene, before the police arrived, by another individual.
The officers eventually questioned the other individual, who indicated to the police, that it was his scooter and the defendant had driven off on it earlier in the evening without the man’s permission. The defendant was questioned by the police later that evening, at the hospital where he was being treated for his injuries, and admitted to conuming four to six glasses of “straight” whiskey earlier in the evening.
Based on this information, the police officer invoked the Minnesota Implied Consent Advisory and asked the defendant to submit to a blood test. The defendant ultimately refused to submit to testing and was charged with Second Degree DWI/Refusal.
The defendant’s attorney argued that the police officer did not have probable cause to believe the defendant was driving, operating, or in physical control of a motor vehicle. Therefore, the police officer lacked the probable cause necessarry to invoke the implied consent law.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled, considering the “totality of the circumstances”, the officer did have probable cause to believe the defendant was indeed operating or in physical control of a “motor vehicle” under the influence of alcohol.