Operating under the influence may include “mowing” under the influence

An unusual arrest by the Augusta Police Department serves as a good reminder about the breadth of Maine’s drunk driving laws.  According to a February 10, 2020 post on its Facebook page, the Augusta Police Department recently arrested someone who was operating a lawnmower while under the influence.  The Facebook post reads, “Although it’s not uncommon to make an arrest on a lawnmower for an OUI, it has been known to happen from time to time.  However we can’t think of a recent instance when it happened in the winter.  APD is seen here by a passerby today.”

Although most OUI charges involve a person who was driving a car or truck on a public way, the law itself is not so limited. Maine’s OUI law under Title 29-A makes it unlawful to “operate a motor vehicle” while under the influence.  There is no limitation in the law as to where the motor vehicle is being operated, and the definition of “motor vehicle” is broad enough to include a riding lawnmower.  There are also separate laws in Maine that make it unlawful to operate a snowmobile or an ATV under the influence.

Based on the photograph accompanying the Facebook post, the operator appeared to have been driving the lawnmower on a public way.  But yes, a person could be arrested for OUI in Maine for mowing “under the influence.”

Tyler J. Smith

Tyler J. Smith
Partner

Tyler’s practice is devoted to appeals, civil litigation, employment law, criminal defense, and defending operating under the influence charges. Before joining the firm in 2012, Tyler was a solo practitioner in Biddeford with a practice focused on criminal defense. After graduating law school, Tyler served as a judicial law clerk with the Maine Superior Court… Read more »