Menace on Motorized Lawn Mower

An Illinois man has been charged with aggravated driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol — a vehicle that has a top speed of 5 mph.

Donald R. Barton, 40, of the St. Louis suburb of Collinsville, stands accused of riding a Power Pro lawn mower while intoxicated down U.S. 40 in Troy, Ill., reports the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat.

"He said he was at his friend's house and drove the lawn mower down the road to see a friend at a tavern," said Diana Leonard, a spokeswoman for the Madison County (search) state's attorney's office.

A cop spotted Barton heading eastbound on Sunday evening around 8 p.m. and pulled him over.

"It was barely visible due to the fact that it had no headlights," Leonard told the newspaper.

Barton, whose bail was set at $20,000, is in serious trouble. His license to drive a car was revoked for two DUI citations five years ago, hence the "aggravated" part of the charge, which could net him three years in prison.

It wasn't clear whether Barton borrowed the lawn mower, or drove it from his home in Collinsville, about 10 miles from Troy.

Three months ago, a woman sought an order of protection against him after he allegedly hit her in the face with a full 40-ounce can of beer.

— Thanks to Out There reader Brie M.

Gun Used as Bar Toy

Memo to off-duty cops: Don't let your drinking buddies play with your weapon.

A Monterey County, Calif., sheriff's deputy is in deep trouble for allegedly doing just that, reports KSBW-TV of Monterey.

Deputy Sean Brooks was drinking at a Palo Alto bar when he passed his sidearm to another man at the bar, a convicted felon, prosecutors say.

Witnesses said the gun's laser sight was pointed at the backs of several people in the bar. Local police were called, and both men were arrested outside.

"This is something that has bothered me since I first heard about it," Monterey County (search) Sheriff Mike Kanalakis told the TV station. "This is not the kind of conduct that I want out of any of our employees. It is disgraceful if it's true."

Brooks was charged with aiding and abetting a convicted felon. The sheriff's department has launched its own probe, and Kanalakis said if the story turned out to be true, Brooks would likely be out of the job.

High Heels Used as Defense in Drunk-Driving Case

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Attorney Bill Thomas may get a lot more business from female motorists thanks to a novel defense strategy: High heels can help beat a DWI rap.

Thomas last week asked a judge how anyone could pass a field sobriety test — which requires a lot of walking — in a pair of 3½-inch stiletto high heels.

The never-before-heard argument created a minor sensation among court officials and observers.

Thomas contended it would be "fundamentally unfair" to use the results of field sobriety tests against one of his female clients because she was wearing stiletto heels at the time, making her unsteady on her feet.

One of the tests required the woman to walk a straight line for some distance and then pivot quickly. In another, she was supposed to stand on one foot for 30 seconds.

Considering that she was wearing stiletto heels, the woman did remarkably well by making it to 16 seconds, Thomas argued.

Judge Wade Barber squelched the results of the field sobriety tests and tossed out the DWI case. Besides the high heels, Barber concluded that a police officer administered the tests incorrectly.

"These are not lawyer tricks," Thomas said Friday. "I know that DWI is a hot political issue. But the public has to understand one important thing: The constitutional protections that follow us in our daily lives also apply to DWI cases."

Dry Seaside Town Wants to Become Wet Again

ROCKPORT, Mass. (AP) — Residents of this tourist village where alcohol has been banned for nearly 150 years have asked the Legislature to take the first step toward allowing some sales of booze.

Except for a brief period after Prohibition (search), Rockport has been dry since 1856, when 200 hatchet-wielding women swept through town and destroyed anything containing liquor.

At a town meeting Monday, nearly 1,000 people voted by a 3-to-1 margin to begin allowing the sale of alcohol at restaurants. Liquor stores and bars would still be banned.

The vote asks the state Legislature to approve a home rule petition that would place the issue before town voters in April.

Rockport resident Fred C. Tarr argued that allowing restaurants to serve alcohol would hurt its unique appeal to tourists.

"Frankly, I don't know that booze will bring happiness to Rockport," he said.

But restaurateurs argued that the liquor ban stifles profits because customers are permitted to bring their own bottles.

The seaside town of 7,800 on Cape Ann is one of 17 dry communities in Massachusetts. Many are so small they have no stores or restaurants.

Man Arrested for Exaggerating Fish Tale

TAVARES, Fla. (AP) — It took Ronnie Lynn Robinson two years to own up to his fish tale.

Robinson admitted Monday to common-law cheating — a rare crime — for turning in what looked to be a thawed-out fish with a belly full of lead weights at a 2002 Lake County bass-fishing tournament.

Robinson was charged and stripped of his nearly $2,000 prize at the Harris Chain Bassmasters Big Bass Tournament after tournament director Darren Ratliff gutted the winning fish in his kitchen and found three 8-ounce weights in its stomach.

Robinson, 51, finally admitted guilt in exchange for nine months of court supervision, during which he must stay clear of fishing contests.

According to a deputy's report, Robinson caught the winning 8-pound, 6-ounce fish on Sept. 28, 2002, threw it into the live well of his boat and submitted it more than six hours later.

Tournament officials didn't question the entry at the scene, but Ratliff said it looked pale and flaccid, and, unlike most freshly dead catches, stiff from rigor mortis. The fish also looked too fat for its length, and the artificial worm in its mouth didn't have the punctures usually found on used bait, he said.

Robinson's $1,915.20 prize was nearly enough to cover his $2,000 bail.

Homeless Man Gives Supermarket His Business

BELLEVUE, Wash. (AP) — A grocery store closed and cleaned its produce section and inspected all of its other merchandise as police arrested a 23-year-old homeless man accused of leaving human feces on the produce.

The man was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of malicious mischief, police spokesperson Tory Mangione said Monday.

The man was arrested late Sunday night at Highland Park, across the street from the Evergreen Village Safeway (search).

According to police reports, the man is accused of placing the fecal matter on produce in the store sometime Sunday evening. The store closed its produce section and later the entire store to dispose of fruits and vegetables and cleaned the entire area before reopening.

The store said any customers concerned about purchases made Sunday evening at that Safeway can return them for a refund or exchange.

Police said evidence found on the arrested man and physical evidence at the scene led to the arrest.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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