Only in Minnestota and I’m from Wisconsin. When I was younger, we would stop at a bar outside of Green Bay for a hamburger and a few pickled eggs after a morning of fishing. We would often see farm equipment of some type parked outside the tavern and two or three farmers would be inside having a drink before returning to work. We used to joke that you could always spot the fields that had been plowed in the afternoon because the rows were less and less straight.
This gentleman’s amusing story fortunately did not end in tragedy but offers a great opportunity to discuss the elements of the offense of OWI/BAC in Wisconsin. In order to obtain a conviction, the prosecution must prove that the accused 1) operated or drove (operation does not require actual driving but simply the ability to put the vehicle in motion keys in the ignition can be good enough) 2) A motor vehicle (the issue raised by this case) 3) on a public highway (any where that car or any other car can legally be not private property like the back 40) 4) while intoxicated.
The question raised by the case is whether a tricked out recliner is a motor vehicle for purposes of the statute.
Sec. 340.01(35) states, “Motor vehicle” means a vehicle, including a combination of 2 or more vehicles or an articulated vehicle, which is self-propelled, except a vehicle operated exclusively on a rail. “Motor vehicle” includes,without limitation, a commercial motor vehicle or a vehicle which is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires but not operated on rails. A snowmobile and an all-terrain vehicle shall only be considered motor vehicles for purposes made specifically applicable by statute.
There have been a number of cases discussing the definition of the classification “motor vehicle” in the Wisconsin Appeals Courts. It does not matter whether the vehicle can be registered or if it is in fact a true conveyance. Tractors and backhoes both fall under the statute. What could potentially separate this motorized chair is the speed it is capable of. The definition statutes that were cited in a few of the cases required that the vehicle be capable of speeds in excess of thirty miles per hour. An experienced drunk driving lawyer can review this type of case with you and properly advise you as to what your options might be.