A 63-year-old Alaskan man was arrested earlier this month for driving a shopping cart while under the influence of alcohol. The man was pulled over after a grocery store employee called the cops after watching the man drive into the parking lot and into the middle of traffic.
Police say the motorized shopping cart the man was operating had a top speed of… wait for it… five miles per hour. Apparently the horse power of his grocery cart was so low that a store employee was able to keep the man in the lot while waiting on the cops to arrive by simply grabbing onto the back of the cart and holding it in place.
The man’s drunk carting is a common problem, with store employees saying that he has repeatedly driven around the store while intoxicated. On other occasions the man had even tried to run over store employees who tried to stop him.
Police say that a preliminary test of the man’s blood came back showing that he had four times the legal limit of alcohol in his system, around 0.31 percent. Beyond being charged with drunk driving, the man was also charged with shoplifting and a violation of the state’s implied consent law after refusing to submit to a breath test. Apparently the drunk carter had unpaid items including Betty Crocker cake mixes in his cart at the time the officers arrived.
According to authorities, the suspect has a lengthy history of trouble with alcohol. He has several prior DUI convictions as well as arrests related to public intoxication, open container, criminal trespass and domestic assault.
Many people have reacted with surprise after news of the arrest was reported; stunned that driving five miles per hour on a grocery cart could lead to criminal charges. The fact is that in Alaska, as well as many other states, drunk driving laws apply to any driver of a “motor vehicle.” The term is often vague and can sometimes include driving a motorized shopping cart, even if it’s only for a small distance at a very low speed.
Were the issue to arise in Minnesota, it’s questionable whether prosecutors would be able to get the charges to stick. A similar case was dealt with in 2011 by the Minnesota Court of Appeals when a handicapped man was arrested and charged with drunk driving on his motorized scooter. That case received a lot of attention initially, but ended with the Court of Appeals deciding that the man could not be found guilty of DWI under Minnesota laws while on a disability scooter. The Court said that conviction was unjust because the scooter, which topped out at six miles per hour, was not a motor vehicle under the state statutes. The Court found that the man did not need a driver’s license to operate it nor was he driving down the road at the time of the arrest. There was also the case of the sofa chair and Segway. Given that the facts of the Alaska case seem so similar, it’s unfortunate for the man that he didn’t choose to do his drunk grocery shopping in Minnesota.
Source: “Man Charged with DUI…On Shopping Cart,” by Jon David Kahn, published at BreitBart.com.