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When you think of drunk driving, you likely envision someone behind the wheel of an automobile involved in a car accident. But that’s not always the case. In weird car news, we present the Ohio man charged with DUI for crashing his motorized barstool.

Um, what’s a motorized barstool?

barstool dui accident crash
A mug on a barstool (this is not the motorized barstool that crashed) | Christian Charisius/picture alliance via Getty Images

In 2009, Kile Wygle, 28, was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. He had crashed while driving. However, Wygle wasn’t operating a car. He was on a motorized barstool.

So, what exactly is a motorized barstool, and why can’t you buy one at Home Depot? In Wygle’s case, it was a barstool strapped to a deconstructed lawn mower. Wygle informed police his contraption could travel 38 mph, making it 10 mph faster than the Peel P50

After admitting to officers he had downed 15 beers before mounting his, uh, hybrid vehicle, Wygle was charged with driving while intoxicated.

Check out a photo of the motorized barstool on Telegram and Gazette.

So, what constitutes a motorized vehicle?

With so many people trying to build, tweak, and reconfigure cars and other motorized vehicles such as lawn mowers and go-karts, the question then becomes, what’s legal and what isn’t? As with all things law-related, it’s far more complicated than you might first guess.

According to the Legal Information Institute, if it’s clearly designed to be driven on a highway, it’s a motorized vehicle. But what of the vehicles not designed for highways that end up on the road anyway?

A few criteria bar a vehicle from being considered a legalized motor vehicle, the institute explains. They include not being able to exceed 25 mph on level or paved surfaces, lacking a reverse gear or other safety features required by state or federal law, or being unsafe or impractical. That can also include vehicles associated with military combat or tactical conveyances. Even though motorcycles lack a reverse gear, they are an exception to this rule.

Another, perhaps more crucial, part of what constitutes a legal motorized vehicle is that it must be designed to transport people. That factor played a key role in another weird news item: the case of a stolen lawn mower in Georgia.

Is a lawn mower a motor vehicle?

Even though lawn mowers meet much of the above criteria, such as having a reverse gear, being practical in the proper context, and, in some cases, exceeding 25 mph, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that a lawn mower is not a motorized vehicle. 

Insurance Journal reports that the ruling came down after Franklin Lloyd Harris was convicted of felony motor vehicle theft in 2006. He allegedly swung by the Home Depot in Dalton, Georgia, loaded up a Toro riding mower, and tore out of the parking lot before anyone could stop him.

This incident wasn’t Harris’ first run-in with the law, and his conviction landed him 10 years in prison. So, how did his conviction get overturned?

Harris’ lawyer argued that although his client had stolen the lawn mower and should be charged as such, it wasn’t as if he had taken off in a used car. The attorney further pointed out that lawn mowers aren’t considered motor vehicles in Georgia.

The state argued back that lawn mowers are indeed motorized vehicles, but the Georgia Supreme Court wasn’t buying it. It ultimately decided that because lawn mowers are designed with the specific purpose of cutting gas, not transporting people, they are not motorized vehicles. 

Though the ruling seems to have cleared up what is and isn’t a legalized motor vehicle in Georgia, that’s not quite the case. If someone is drunk while operating a lawn mower and causes a crash, it might be considered a motor vehicle.

So, what’s the real answer? Apparently, that’s a question not even the court system can fully answer.


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