People forget one of the first rules of impaired driving: don’t drive anything while you’re impaired. Not a car. Not a truck. Not a tractor, riding mower, snowmobile, or Segway. Not even a bicycle. All kinds of wheeled vehicles can be dangerous when the driver has been drinking, and some can be very dangerous indeed.
Ontario Provincial Police recently booked a driver for DUI after he crashed a snowplow into the wall of Carleton Place Hospital. The driver tested over the legal limit of .08 BAC, and will have to appear in court. A snowplow DUI might be unusual, but it shouldn’t be surprising, as it’s a logical extension of Canadian law.
What is surprising is how often people take risks with heavy machinery, operating backhoes and earth movers while impaired as if they were not vehicles and subject to DUI laws. The Criminal Code specifies:
Every one commits an offence who operates a motor vehicle … while the person’s ability to operate the vehicle … is impaired by alcohol or a drug; or having consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the concentration in the person’s blood exceeds eighty milligrams of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood.
And for our benefit, the Code defines motor vehicle as “a vehicle that is drawn, propelled or driven by any means other than muscular power.” So a snowplow DUI falls neatly into place in Canadian law.
Every year the citizenry tries to outdo itself finding new contraptions with which to test DUI laws: motorized wheelchairs, scooters… if Back to the Future hoverboards ever get invented, hoverboard DUIs will follow directly, and they won’t be pretty. It seems that as soon as a wheeled device is invented, someone tries to pilot it while drunk. And that is why the Criminal Code is open ended about the definition of impaired driving – not to catch DUI offenders, but to protect citizens against the danger of vehicles being driven by drivers who aren’t in control of them.