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Minnesota ruling exempts Segways from DWI charges

Minnesota ruling exempts Segways from DWI charges

ST. PAUL - If you're riding your Segway home from a bar in Minnesota, a court ruling handed down Tuesday ensures you're not going to get a DWI for it.

In an opinion written by Appeals Court Judge Margaret Chutich, the court upheld the dismissal of drunken-driving charges against a Medina man, Mark Alan Greenman, who was pulled over by Medina police on Feb. 4 of last year just after 5 p.m.

Police said his Segway was drifting over the center line, forcing one vehicle to slow down to keep from hitting him. A breath test put his blood alcohol level at 0.19 percent.

In the opinion, the court noted that a previous ruling had specifically excluded a "personal assistive mobility device," defined in part as being a self-balancing two-wheeled device, electrically powered and for only one person, designed to go at slow speeds where cars cannot go.

A Segway is a two-wheel mode of transportation that is powered by a battery.

The court said Segways also don't meet the definition of a vehicle because they aren't designed for highway use. Minnesota law prohibits the use of a Segway on a road when a sidewalk is available.

The court upheld a district court judge's decision to dismiss the charges. It was the second time a trial judge had thrown out a DWI charge in which Greenman was operating a Segway.

In the dissenting opinion, Judge Roger Klaphake wrote that a DWI charge could apply because Segways are not exclusively human-powered, and it is possible to take Segways on a highway.