Man driving scooter held on DWI charge

Staff WritersSeptember 2, 2010 

— You don't have to be driving a car to be charged with driving while impaired.

Garner resident Greg Louis Garrahan discovered that about 9 p.m. Tuesday when Raleigh Officer Jonathan S. Wood found him lying in the road in the 200 block of South Blount Street near his 2010 F-Act-50 Keeway scooter.

Garrahan is accused of hitting another vehicle with his scooter. He failed field sobriety tests, according to documents filed in the Wake County Magistrate's Office. His alcohol content was listed as 0.19; the legal limit for driving is 0.08. He has two previous drunken driving convictions.

Adam Moyer, a prosecutor with the Wake County District Attorney's Office, said it is not unusual for people who are convicted of drunken driving to seek other means of transportation while their driving privileges are suspended.

"If you have to get around and you can't drive, then you have to take the bus, a cab, a bicycle, certain varieties of motor scooters, or you walk," he said.

Although some vehicles don't require a license to operate, charges can be brought for operating a four-wheeler or two-wheeler or even riding a four-legged animal while intoxicated, according to North Carolina statutes.

Rob Foss, a spokesman with the N.C. Highway Safety Research Center in Chapel Hill, said certain types of scooters do not require an operator's license, which allows drivers with impaired driving convictions to get back on the road. The center does not track impaired driving arrests of people operating motor scooters.

"They are very rare because there aren't that many people driving scooters," Foss said.

Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said that pattern applies locally. Garrahan, 39, of 2328 Win Road, Garner, has been twice convicted of impaired driving offenses - in 2002 in Johnston County and again in 2006 in Wake County. He was charged Tuesday with habitual impaired driving after a criminal background check revealed the previous convictions.

On July 15, 2002, Garrahan surrendered his driver's license and was sentenced to two years of probation after he was convicted of driving while impaired in Johnston County, Johnston County records show.

On June 7, 2006, Garrahan pleaded guilty in Wake County District Court to another impaired driving charge and was sentenced to 12 months' probation.

Because it was his second conviction for drunken driving in less than seven years, he was ordered to temporarily surrender his license, obtain a substance abuse assessment and not possess or consume any alcoholic beverage, records show.

Garrahan's driving privileges could be permanently revoked if a Wake County court convicts him of being a habitually impaired driver, according to state statutes.

Garrahan was unavailable for comment Wednesday because he was in the Wake County jail in lieu of $1,000 bail. His scooter was impounded.

News researcher Brooke Cain contributed to this report.

thomasi.mcdonald@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4533

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