A Carlton County man is appealing DWI charges he received in the summer of 2017 when riding a trike retrofitted with a small motor - making it capable of reaching speeds of 40 mph.
Brian Larson, 53, filed an appeal in late March for two drunken-driving charges he received in July 2017. Larson said the trike doesn't fall under the state's definition of a motor vehicle, so the DWI charges shouldn't be upheld. The state said the motorized trike is classified as a motor vehicle, according to appeal documents.
His "unusual bicycle" can be moved by peddling and/or by a small, gas-powered motor connected to the rear tire by a chain, according to the appeal. It's capable of reaching 40 mph "if on a steep decline" or can hit 20 mph on a flat road, the appeal states.
In this situation, Larson said the state overstepped. "I feel like I was taken advantage (of)," he told the News Tribune. He added that the charges are "extremely excessive."
The appeal claims there is no proof which mode of propelling Larson was using at the time of his arrest. A DWI in Minnesota requires the individual to be operating a motor vehicle, which includes vehicles that are self-propelled and motorized bikes.
"It did not present any evidence as to how Larson was propelling the bike that day. Because a reasonable inference from the evidence is that Larson was pedaling his bike, there is insufficient evidence in the record to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he was driving a motor vehicle," the appeal read.
The State of Minnesota says the opposite: that Larson, who was riding an engine-equipped bike, was operating a motor vehicle as defined by state DWI law.
"(The appeal's) reasoning is flawed because appellant operated a three-wheeled vehicle equipped with a small engine, which provided it the capability to travel fast on the roadway and to exercise the rights of a motorist," the state's response read.
Officers pulled Larson over in Wright after they saw him on the trike swerving into oncoming lanes of traffic. Larson produced a .138 blood alcohol level during the stop, less than double the legal amount.
Larson builds bikes for everyday travel, including during the winter when he wears a snowmobile suit to travel. During trips on the bike, he averages 15 to 18 mph, he said. "I'm a simple man. ... I'm not in any hurry," Larson said.
The appeal is scheduled for a non-oral conference in July.