Hot tip: If you choose to drive your lawnmower on the road as a vehicle, don’t think you’re free from driving laws.
Indeed, this was the lesson learnt the hard way for one NSW man who allegedly decided he would jump on his ride-on lawnmower after several rounds of drinks one March evening and take to the streets of Terranora.
It is reported that the 40-year-old made his way down the residential road at Shearer Court and Australia Drive of the northern NSW town, not a care in the world.
Alas, riding a lawnmower down any road isn’t exactly inconspicuous, and as luck would have it, by the time he’d reached the border of Tweed Heads around 7:45pm, he had been spotted by officers from NSW Police.
The man was quickly pulled over, and when subjected to a roadside breath test, allegedly blew almost five times over the legal limit.
According to NSW Police, the man was then taken to Tweed Heads Police Station.
There, he allegedly returned a reading of 0.243 BAC.
The man was charged with high-range drink driving (second offence).
He was also charged with driving without an interlock device and driving an unregistered type of vehicle on a road.
The man will appear at Tweed Heads Local Court over the matter in May.
An interlock device is an electronic breath-testing device that links to the ignition system of cars, motorcycles and heavy vehicles.
It is part of the Alcohol Interlock Program, which is a court-ordered requirement for some drink driving offenders.
When on an Alcohol Interlock Program, before you can drive your vehicle, you are required to complete a breath test on the interlock.
If the device detects that you have alcohol in your system, the vehicle will not start.
If you have been convicted of a serious drink driving offence, or you’ve been convicted of more than one drink driving offence, you will be restricted to driving vehicles with interlock devices for a period of time after you return to driving.
What You Should Know Before Jumping on Your Lawnmower for a Joy Ride…
While it may seem tempting to hop on your ride-on lawnmower and take to the streets, under NSW law, mowers, including lawn and ride-on mowers, must be conditionally registered in order to be used on public roads and road-related areas, while road rules apply.
Having a conditional registration gives you limited road access to perform specific functions.
Moreover, you cannot get conditional registration if a vehicle that complies with the construction and equipment requirements of the Australian Design Rules can be used to perform the same function.
It is important to note that lawnmowers weighing less than 250kg used for mowing lawns are exempt from registration.
Meanwhile, for oversize vehicle operators, vehicles that go beyond the dimension and weight limits must comply with the conditions of the relevant access notice or permit.
In NSW, the conditions can be found by contacting the Special Permits Unit.
The Penalties You Can Face for High-Range Drink Driving in NSW
In NSW, drink driving is a criminal offence, and for high-range incidences, the penalties are significant.
This is designed not only to reflect the seriousness of the crime, but also to deter people from engaging in the conduct given drink driving can have grave impacts on road users and the community at large.
In NSW, if you are a first-time offender found guilty of high-range drink driving, you can face maximum penalties of up to 18-months in jail, or a fine of $3,300, or both.
In addition, a compulsory licence disqualification of 6-9 months will also apply, as well as an interlock period for a minimum of two years.
The penalties increase if you a second-time offender or a subsequent offender.
In such case, you can face a maximum penalty of up to two years in jail, a fine of $5,500, or both.
For second-time or subsequent offenders, the compulsory licence disqualification period increases to 9 – 12 months, while a minimum interlock period of four years also applies.
By Sahar Adatia.