If you don't own a Segway, you've probably never given this question much thought. But as Segways' exposure and popularity have increased in recent years, so has the push to define them. Are they a motor vehicle like a car or are users considered pedestrians, as with a skateboard? In the state of Minnesota this was especially true in the case of Minnesota vs. Greenman. Let's take a look.
The Back Story
On Feb. 4, 2012, Mark A. Greenman, Minneapolis, was attempting to return to his Medina home using his Segway. According to the complaint Greenman started out traveling on the walking path before transferring to the road. While on the road, he twice veered across the center line. The complaint states an oncoming vehicle had to slow down to avoid striking him the first time he veered across the center line. Greenman had crossed the center line a second time before he was stopped by a Medina police officer.
The officer noticed Greenman showed evidence of intoxication. He was asked to perform a series of field sobriety tests which he failed. Greenman was then arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. His breath test result revealed a blood alcohol concentration of .19.
He was charged with third-degree DWI (driving under the influence of alcohol), third-degree DWI (driving with an alcohol concentration of .08 or more) and failure to operate a personal assistive mobility device with due care.
The defense moved that the first two charges, related to DWI be dismissed by the court, arguing that a Segway is not a motor vehicle with regards to impaired-driving laws.
The district court agreed, referencing an earlier DWI case dismissal involving Greenman and his use of a Segway. In that case Greenman had been deemed a pedestrian by the district court and, as such, could not be charged under Minnesota Statute 169A.20.
Similar to the earlier case, this time the district court concluded that while Greenman was using his Segway he “was not committing driving conduct” and that “he was acting as a pedestrian as a matter of the law… .”
The state appealed the ruling.
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