Michigan OWI: Drunk Driving On…A Lawn Mower?

A 36-year-old man from Lawton in Van Buren County was recently arrested for drunk driving. What makes this particular arrest noteworthy wasn’t the fact that he was intoxicated, or even how much he had consumed, but rather what he was driving when the officers pulled him over.

According to a news release from the Van Buren County sheriff’s office, the incident occurred on Saturday, October 25th, at about 9 pm. Two deputies, Brian Matthews and Reserve Deputy Matt Wilton, were driving around on patrol when they noticed a green John Deere lawn mower being driven down County Road 657 in Antwerp Township.

The road is completely dark, and the lawn mower doesn’t come equipped with headlights or reflectors of any kind (since most people don’t mow their lawns at midnight). But the mower driver had solved the problem of night blindness by strapping flashlights onto the front of the mower.

In addition to the homemade headlights, the driver was also pulling a homemade trailer behind him. “As (we) began to investigate why a man was driving a lawn mower down the roadway in the dark, a vehicle came up from behind the mower,” said one of the deputies in his report.

In order to avoid a collision between the two vehicles, the deputies shined lights on the mower, which the driver of the second car hadn’t noticed till then. Apparently this allowed the car to avoid a head on collision with the mower.

Deputies stopped the driver and assessed him, performing a roadside sobriety test. He was apparently found to be “highly intoxicated”, and was subsequently arrested for Michigan OWI (operating while intoxicated), third offense. He is currently in custody at the Van Buren County Jail.

The mower was removed from the roadside and is being held for safekeeping. The identity of the suspect and his BAC have not yet been released to the public, pending arraignment.

Under Michigan law, operating while intoxicated refers to any motor vehicle, not just a car or motorcycle. Everything from boat and a jetski to a 4 wheeler and even a lawn mower counts as a vehicle if you are driving on a public road.

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