Wisconsin judge rules DUI laws apply to riding lawnmowers, sparks panic among Midwest dads

Illustration for article titled Wisconsin judge rules DUI laws apply to riding lawnmowers, sparks panic among Midwest dads
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Did a Wisconsin appeals court judge fully understand the ramifications of their recent ruling extending drunk-driving laws to riding lawnmowers? Summer landscaping will never be the same again in America’s Dairyland, as the Associated Press reports the court ruled “operating a riding mower while drunk carries the same penalties as driving a car while intoxicated.”


The ruling comes in the case of a man arrested for drunk driving in 2017 as he rode his mower down the streets of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, after leaving a bar. What followed was the man’s fourth conviction drunk-driving offense; he appealed the decision to a higher court. Tuesday, the 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled that the same penalties for drunkenly operating a Subaru, Land Rover, Expedition, Prius, or other car or truck also apply to operating John Deeres and Toros.

What this means for the summer tradition of “lawnmower beers” is unclear. Lawnmower beer is an actual term, designating a low-alcohol, easy-drinking beer that a person could enjoy a few of while, yes, mowing the lawn. (Houston’s Saint Arnold Brewing Company even brews a year-round kölsch called Fancy Lawnmower.) Surely enjoying a couple sub-5%-ABV beers while mowing the lawn would still be acceptable—just remember to keep that mower on your property and off city streets.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.



Also not legal to ride when drunk - a bicycle! No kidding. If it is near the road, at least, you can get arrested. (Didn’t happen to me, but i did know a guy to whom this happened. And since he didn’t know about that law, he didn’t believe the cops, which then led to additional charges of ... resisting arrest, of course!) I’ve always wondered if it would have been legal if he was riding on a bike path, or mountain biking, i.e. not near the road.

Also horses, can’t ride them on a road while drunk. I have the same questions, can you ride the horse in the woods while drunk.

It brings up a interesting question. If the danger is that while drunk you could fall off of the bike/horse, into the path of the oncoming car, so you shouldn’t do that while drunk. However, what about those traveling bar cars, such as below. What if you fall off the stool, and into on-coming traffic? Just asking, i actually hope to ride a bar car someday.