I have already written about a number of non-automotive drunk driving charges, including incidents that involved "vehicles" such as riding lawnmowers, horses, and at least one Zamboni. Not wanting to repeat myself, I passed on covering another recent riding-lawnmower DUI case, despite the fact that in that case the driver was wearing a tuxedo. Luckily for this category of posts, though, there still appears to be room for creativity in terms of what people try to drive when they have been drinking.
This was demonstrated in Whitehall, New York, on Memorial Day, when police arrested a 57-year-old man who was driving a motorized beer cooler.
A patrolman said he saw Leslie "Bomber" Marr swerving while riding his cooler on the sidewalk and preparing to cross a busy street. Marr had apparently just left a local American Legion post, but was not headed home. Police said he appeared to be intoxicated, and it probably did not help matters that his vehicle was in fact a beer cooler that contained 14 beers. Marr refused a breath test and was arrested for driving while intoxicated. He was also cited for "operating an uninsured motor vehicle."
It is a motor vehicle under New York law, said the local district attorney. That appears to be true, since Section 125 of the state Vehicle and Traffic Code defines "motor vehicle" as "every vehicle . . . which is propelled by any power other than muscular power," with certain exceptions none of which seem to apply to motorized beer coolers, unless possibly if you have a disability and are using your cooler as a "mobility-assistance device." Otherwise, said DA Kevin Kortright, "[y]ou can’t cruise around on your cooler if you’re intoxicated." Is there really any danger from doing so? "We were told it can do up to 12 mph," said an officer.
Actually, it’s 13, according to the company. The Cruzin Cooler is made by the company of the same name, located in Houston, Texas. (The research and development offices are in Austin, however.) According to the company’s website, the Cruzin Cooler features spring-loaded foot pegs, a chain drive, disc brakes, and a "drink access lid w/holder." It has a 14-can capacity (so Marr’s was fully stocked) although more can be added by attaching additional coolers, trailers, or wagons to the trailer hitch provided.
The more serious aspect of the cooler DWI is that Marr has prior DWI arrests and convictions (the article didn’t say whether these involved cars or coolers, but probably the former), so that could actually upgrade the Cruzin Cooler charges to felony DWI for the repeat offense. The report did not say whether the classification of the cooler as a "motor vehicle" meant that operators would now have to insure the vehicle and/or be licensed to operate it.
Marr was released on bail, but his cooler was impounded.