U.S. News

DUI conviction overturned for Oregon man who hit truck with wheelchair

(Reuters) - An Oregon appeals court has reversed the conviction of a man charged with drunk driving for operating his motorized wheelchair while intoxicated.

The Oregon court of Appeals ruled Thursday that James Richard Greene was a pedestrian as he piloted his wheelchair through a crosswalk, not the driver of a vehicle as prosecutors had alleged, the court said in a news release.

“Because defendant left a sidewalk in his motorized wheelchair and traveled in a crosswalk, he was a pedestrian and not a driver of a vehicle” under the pertinent statute, the court said in the release.

Greene was convicted of driving under the influence of intoxicants for slamming his wheelchair into a pickup truck in a crosswalk in Oregon’s Lincoln County in 2012, the Oregonian newspaper reported.

Prosecutors had argued that the wheelchair met the definition of a vehicle, and a jury convicted Greene in 2013.

He appealed, saying that he was in the crosswalk as a pedestrian, and on Thursday, the Court of Appeals agreed.

The court did not rule more broadly on the question of whether motorized wheelchairs can be considered vehicles in other circumstances, limiting their comments to Greene’s actions as a pedestrian in the crosswalk.

Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by David Gregorio