Another Zamboni DUI

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ZamboniI’m glad to see that The Smoking Gun‘s records are consistent with mine—we agree that this was the third known arrest for driving a Zamboni while intoxicated.

I have a total of four Zamboni crimes, but one of them did not involve alcohol. Although, ironically, that’s the only one of the four where the Zamboni was actually out on the street.

The most recent incident happened in Fargo, North Dakota, where witnesses reported that the Zamboni operator at a high-school hockey game was driving “erratically.” Police were called. They determined that he was indeed intoxicated (his BAC was more than three times the limit, so super-intoxicated), and arrested him. He was later charged with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence, and was fired from his job.

Now, I would certainly not advocate driving anything under the influence, but as I have pointed out before, if you were going to do that, a Zamboni would be one of the least dangerous vehicles you could choose. The things have a top speed of maybe three MPH, so unless somebody lies down on the ice in front of one, they don’t seem to pose that much risk. Still, it plainly is a “vehicle” under state law, so driving one drunk is potentially an offense.

As it happens, though, this guy is probably not guilty of a DUI under North Dakota state law, in my view. The relevant section provides that if a person is over the limit, he or she “may not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle upon a highway or upon public or private areas to which the public has a right of access for vehicular use ….” Emphasis added. I doubt the rink could be construed as an “area to which the public has a right of access for vehicular use.” Unless the Zamboni itself counts, but I don’t think it should. It’s not like any member of the public can go drive his or her Zamboni around the rink, or at least I assume that’s true. But based on that language, I don’t think a state-law DUI charge should stick.

He would not get off scot-free, though. He may have been charged under the similar provision in Fargo’s municipal code, which doesn’t have that language. That ordinance prohibits drunk driving on any street, highway, parking lot, “or other public or private property in this city….” Because Captain Zamboni was charged with a misdemeanor, he may have been charged under this code instead of state law.

I also think he could be charged with reckless driving, if that concept applies to a vehicle that moves at walking speed.