Almost a month ago, Aynor's mayor and the CFO for Horry County Schools, John Gardner, was stopped by Horry County police for driving a lawnmower down the highway.
During the traffic stop, they discovered an open beer in the lawnmower's cup holder and the mayor can be seen on video walking unsteadily. Although the incident happened on August 25, the mayor has not been charged and there are no incident reports available.
Can You Get a DUI on a Lawnmower in South Carolina?
South Carolina's DUI laws make it a crime to drive any motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs "to the extent that the person's faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired."
Whether you can get a DUI on a lawnmower depends on the definition of "motor vehicle." For purposes of S.C.'s DUI statutes, 56-5-130 defines a motor vehicle as "[e]very vehicle which is self-propelled... and every vehicle which is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but not operated upon rails."
Although we do not see many lawnmower DUI cases in South Carolina, there is no doubt that lawnmowers fall under the DUI statute and people have been charged with it. For example, three days before Aynor's mayor got a pass from local enforcement, another man in Spartanburg County was charged with DUI on a stolen lawnmower. A Conway man was also charged with DUI on a tractor several years ago.
Aynor and Horry County Police Cover-Up?
I'm not sure how this can be seen as anything other than a cover-up by Horry County police and Aynor police to protect the mayor. Here are some facts from the news story:
- Although Horry County Police made the traffic stop, it is not clear if Gardner was within city limits or in the county.
- Officer Ruggerio was the male officer who made the stop. He was accompanied by a female officer whose name is not available in the news report.
- Gardner was driving on a highway with other vehicles on it and was stopped in the middle of an intersection.
- Gardner did not stop for the officers when they activated their blue lights, resulting in a slow-speed chase down the highway.
- Gardner had a can of beer in the mower's cupholder. The officer had Gardner pour it out.
- Gardner is weaving and is not steady on his feet in the dashcam video.
- The officer did not ask Gardner to perform any field sobriety tests or ask him how much he had to drink.
- Instead, the officers called Aynor police to come and get Gardner.
- Neither Aynor Police nor Horry County Police wrote an incident report.
Neither Horry County Police or Aynor Police have charged Gardner with any crimes. If any other drunk person who is not the mayor was 1) driving down the highway on a lawnmower, 2) drunk, 3) with an open beer, 4) and failed to stop for the blue lights, would the police have helped them to get home and refused to create a record of the incident?
Aynor Police Chief David Thompson provided this statement: "The situation involving Mayor Gardner was neither initiated or investigated by the Aynor Police Department therefore it would not be appropriate for me to make a comment on another agencies case."
Aynor Town Manager Tony Godsey said that since there are no charges or tickets, they aren't investigating or doing anything.
Teal Britton with Horry County Schools also said that no action will be taken against Gardner because there is no report or charges.
Clearly, an independent agency needs to step in and conduct an independent investigation. Not only of the mayor, but also of the Horry County and Aynor Police for covering up the incident.
DUI in Aynor, SC?
Our Aynor DUI defense attorneys regularly handle DUI offenses in the Myrtle Beach, Aynor, Conway, and Horry County areas. If you have been arrested and charged with DUI in Aynor, schedule a free consultation with a DUI defense lawyer on the Axelrod team. Call us at (843) 916-9300 or fill out our contact form today.