A Marion County man has been charged with his 5th DUI after being arrested for driving a lawnmower in the opposite lane of traffic. The 68-year-old resident claimed to not have possessed a driver’s license since 1985 as a result of a previous DUI conviction.
WDBO.com obtained video of the traffic stop, subsequent sobriety test and arrest from the arresting officer’s dashboard camera. Suspect James Gray was pulled over when a police deputy observed him riding his lawn mower against traffic on Northeast 30th Court last Tuesday. The arresting officer informed Gray that he was pulled over for this reason, to which Gray responded, “I thought that’s the way I was supposed to.” In fact, it is illegal to drive a lawnmower on Florida roads at all, much less against the normal pattern of traffic.
When the deputy asked Gray to submit to a Field Sobriety Test, Gray claimed he was unable to because brain surgery had caused his “equilibrium [to be] off balance,” and that he was unable to count to 10 for the same reason. Gray failed the Field Sobriety Test, and upon his arrest the deputy reportedly discovered an open beer container in the cup holder of the lawnmower and four unopened beers in the back of the vehicle.
If found guilty of DUI, Gray could face a felony conviction under Florida state law (which allows for a third degree felony charge on a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction). Penalties allow for up to five years incarceration in a Florida state prison and/or a $5,000 fine. Although these penalties may seem excessive for such a trivial infraction, Florida law enforcement and prosecutors are likely to argue that the lawnmower constitutes a motor vehicle under Florida DUI statute and posed a substantive danger to the driver and to other drivers or pedestrians on the road. Gray’s Field Sobriety Test failure will be used as evidence in support of the prosecutions case in court.