When it comes to allegations of drunk driving it may be that the condition of the driver is more important than other aspects of the case, at least in the eyes of some courts. This could be one way to read a case that made headlines this past week. The events didn’t happen in Minnesota, but because they happened in a neighboring state they are clearly worth noting.
The drunk driving charges in this case were triggered back in January. According to authorities, the suspect was taken into custody after he was seen driving erratically. He was at the wheel of a Zamboni machine and he was on a rink in Fargo, North Dakota, where a girl’s high school hockey game was being played. Witnesses called in police after seeing the Zamboni crash into the boards.
Blood alcohol content tests done on the 27-year-old man showed that his BAC level was almost four times higher than the 0.08 percent-level allowed.
At his trial this week, the man admitted that he was drunk at the time. But his attorney questioned whether the law should apply to the situation. He said it isn’t clear that a Zamboni is a vehicle under North Dakota law. He said it’s also not clear that it makes it illegal to drive a Zamboni on a rink while drunk.
There were also questions raised about whether witnesses saw the defendant driving the Zamboni on a surface road behind the arena when the time came to dump the ice shavings and whether other vehicles might have access to the road.
Despite a lack of specific reference in the law, the judge in the case ruled that it is written in such a way so as to include a Zamboni.
Upon being convicted, the defendant was sentenced to serve just over a week in jail and fined $1,500. He must also get state-approved sobriety counseling and a chemical dependency evaluation.
Source: Star Tribune, “Zamboni operator convicted of driving vehicle drunk at high school hockey game in North Dakota,” Dave Kolpack, AP, June 2, 2015