Another Thing You Can’t (Legally) Drive Drunk: Wheelchair

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This isn't the first motorized-wheelchair-DWI case by any means, nor is it especially recent, but I don't think I have "wheelchair DWI" in the database yet so I'm reporting this one anyway.

The culprit in this case also gets bonus points because (1) he did not need the wheelchair (apart from being drunk), (2) it wasn't his wheelchair anyway, and (3) he stole it from a senior citizen. So there is that. The report also comes with video, although it isn't the extended low-speed pursuit I had hoped for. 

In May, a 55-year-old man was arrested in Utica, Michigan, and charged with operating a motorized wheelchair on a city street while heavily intoxicated. Police had been called to the Utica Senior Citizen Housing complex because of a report that a resident had been punched during an argument. It's not clear what the assailant was doing there, but presumably he wasn't a resident given his age. He was, however, loaded.

According to the report, "when police arrived, [the suspect] took the man's wheelchair and started driving away." I guess it was more reliable than his legs, given that he was later found to be sporting a blood-alcohol content of .24, three times the legal limit, but in any event he did not get far. "Officers recognized right away that [the suspect] had been drinking," and recognized shortly thereafter that he did not really need a wheelchair (apart from being drunk).

Under Michigan law, "vehicle" means "every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except devices exclusively moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks." Although the definition of "motor vehicle" is different, the state DWI law applies to anyone operating a "vehicle," so (fortunately or unfortunately) we don't need to get into that. Had the guy stolen a non-motorized wheelchair, it looks like he would have been free and clear of the DUI charge, at least, but too bad for him.

That video would have been a lot more comical, though, so too bad for us.