By Shereen Siewert
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals this week ruled against a former Rhinelander man who was charged with a fourth-offense OWI after he was arrested drunkenly riding his lawn mower down a public roadway.
The court ruled that a mower is not an “all-terrain vehicle,” which is subject to a different penalty scheme.
Keith H. Shoeder, 65, was charged May 10, 2017 with the felony charge after he was observed riding his lawn mower on the shoulder of a public roadway.
According to the criminal complaint, on the afternoon of May 9, 2017, Oneida County dispatch received an anonymous telephone call reporting that Shoeder had an active warrant and was at a tavern located in the township of Pine Lake. An Oneida County deputy responded to the report and identified Shoeder driving an orange lawn mower southbound on the blacktop shoulder of Eagle Street in the nearby city of Rhinelander.
The deputy, heading northbound, passed by Shoeder and then saw him take an abrupt right turn onto a driveway that led to a group of condominiums.
Court records state the deputy turned around to follow Shoeder and activated the emergency lights on his marked squad car. Shoeder refused to stop, and the deputy activated his siren. Shoeder then drove off the driveway onto the front grassy area of the condominiums and through some trees before being apprehended on foot.
Shoeder refused field sobriety tests, and a subsequent blood draw showed his alcohol concentration at .119 percent, according to court documents. He was convicted of fourth offense OWI but later appealed, based on the question of whether his riding lawn mower qualifies as a “motor vehicle” or, alternatively, whether it qualifies as an “all-terrain vehicle” under state law.
But judges in the Dist. 3 Court of Appeals, based in Wausau, rejected Shoeder’s argument and upheld the conviction, ruling that a lawn mower is not an “all-terrain vehicle” under Wisconsin law.
Shoeder, who has since moved to Florida, has not indicated whether he will appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.