Zamboniing Under The Influence
A Zamboni is not a motor vehicle and drinking while driving the big ice-cleaning machine cannot prompt DWI charges, a Superior Court judge ruled yesterday.
As a result of that interpretation and some concerns about findings in a 2006 municipal court case, Judge Joseph Falcone overturned the license revocation and penalties imposed last year on John Peragallo, former Zamboni driver at the Mennen Sports Arena in Morris County.
“It’s a vindication for my client,” Peragallo’s attorney James Porfido said after the appeals hearing in Morristown. “It’s the right decision.”
Peragallo, 64, of Randolph, lost his license in what may have been a first in New Jersey, found guilty of drunken driving on a Zamboni. Morris Township Municipal Court Judge Robert Nish suspended Peragallo’s license for two years, fined him $958, ordered 30 days’ community service and gave him an option of two days in jail or taking a course for drunken drivers.
Falcone, however, ruled a Zamboni meets only part of the statutory description of a motor vehicle, that it is a motor-driven, trucklike machine. The statute also requires it to be useable on a highway and to carry passengers, he said.
How about horseback riding under the influence?
A northeast Alabama police chief says D-U-I charges can apply even when the vehicle has four legs instead of wheels. Sylvania Police Chief Brad Gregg said 40-year-old Melissa Byrum York of Henager went for a midnight horseback ride through Sylvania and was charged with driving under the influence and drug offenses. The incident happened Sunday.
Police in the DeKalb County town say she used the horse to ram a police car. She’s also been charged with animal cruelty and second-degree assault.
Chief Gregg is probably correct. Alabama’s DUI prohibitions are at Section 32-5A-191 of the code:
(a) A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle while:
(1) There is 0.08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in his or her blood;
(2) Under the influence of alcohol;
(3) Under the influence of a controlled substance to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely driving;
(4) Under the combined influence of alcohol and a controlled substance to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely driving; or
(5) Under the influence of any substance which impairs the mental or physical faculties of such person to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely driving.
Section 32-5A-5 then states (emphasis added):
Every person riding an animal or driving any animal-drawn vehicle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except those provisions of this chapter, which by their very nature can have no application.
Of course, as some of our less intelligent local legislators reminded us yesterday, if we would just make sure that the only alcohol available is cheap alcohol, no-one will drink and drive anymore.