Archive for January 4th, 2017

Court: A Wheelchair Isn’t a Vehicle….Duh!

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

The surreal "War on Drunk Driving" never ceases to amaze….

In their frantic desire to win votes, satisfy MADD, meet arrest quotas and make money, politicians, cops, prosecutors and judges fall over themselves trying to look tough on DUI.  One ridiculous example of this is expanding the entire concept of "driving a motor vehicle under the influence" to include operating anything that moves on a street, sidewalk or parking lot.  A few of my past posts reflect this:  DUI on a ScooterDUI in a Wheelchair?,  Drunk Driving on a Lawn Mower, DUI – While Walking a Bike, DUI…in a Lounge Chair and Drunk Driving…on a Horse.

Every once in a while, however, some court comes along and courageously announces that "The emperor has no clothes"….


Drunken Driver of a Wheelchair Was a Pedestrian, Appellate Court Rules

Lincoln County, OR.  Dec. 30, 2016 – A man convicted of drunkenly driving his motorized wheelchair should be considered a pedestrian rather than a driver, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled Thursday, reversing and acquitting him.

James Richard Greene was charged with DUI in Lincoln County, for a 2012 incident in which he hit the side of a moving truck while he crossed the street in a crosswalk…

At his two-day jury trial, Greene’s attorney moved for acquittal, calling Greene a pedestrian and not a driver.  Judge Paulette Sanders denied the motion. Greene appealed and on Thursday the three-judge panel reversed, concluding that “the trial court erred in denying defendant’s motion for a judgment of acquittal.”

“We are persuaded that the dichotomy that pervades the vehicle code between pedestrians and operators of vehicles decisively evinces a legislative intention not to subject people in motorized wheelchairs to the DUII statutes when they are traveling as pedestrians in crosswalks,” Presiding Judge Rex Armstrong wrote for the unanimous panel…

Nonetheless, the appeals court found the state’s interpretation of the DUI statute “plausible,” because of the broad way “vehicle” can be interpreted. But it concluded that the Legislature did not intend to treat a person as both a pedestrian and a driver, and Greene was not subject to the vehicle code.  


One wonders if sanity will prevail…or if the prosecutor will appeal this ruling — and win before the Oregon Supreme Court based on "the broad way ‘vehicle’ can be interpreted" to include wheelchairs.  Really?!
 

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