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Police pull over man suspected of drunken driving – in CAT loader

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You don't have to be in a car to get busted for drunken driving, as a Twin Cities man police say was behind the wheel of a CAT loader found out last Friday.

The Edina Police Department tweeted about the DWI arrest on Monday morning, saying the suspect was plowing snow with a front-end loader – while a 5-year-old was sitting on his lap

The department also described the suspect as a "repeat violator."

Edina Police Department spokeswoman Kaylin Eidsness told BringMeTheNews that a customer at Bobby and Steve's Auto World in Bloomington noticed the suspect – Robert James Stertz – inside the store "acting intoxicated," and watched as he left the store to make sure he didn't get into a car and drive away shortly after 11 p.m.

Instead, the witness reported seeing Stertz climb into the front-end loader with the child on his lap, police said. He then called 911.

The incident happened outside the World Market in Bloomington, though Edina police handled the call as they were right nearby over the city line when it happened and were able to respond, Eidsness says.

Stertz was charged in Hennepin County with two counts of DWI – you can read the criminal complaint here. It says Stertz registered a blood alcohol content of 0.101 while on the scene, and about an hour later recorded a 0.08.

Eidsness tells BringMeTheNews (and the criminal complaint also notes) this is his fourth such offense in 10 years.

DWI laws

Minnesota law says it is a crime to "drive, operate, or be in control of any motor vehicle anywhere in the state" while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. What constitutes a "vehicle" pretty much runs the gamut in the eyes of the state, which includes school buses, Head Start buses, airplanes, snowmobiles, ATVs, other off-road vehicles, and motorboats in its list.

Since the driver in the snow-plowing incident is accused of having a child in the CAT loader when he was pulled over, he's looking at some stiffer penalties than what he would have been facing had he been busted alone or with other adults in the vehicle.

According to the state, the presence of a child under the age of 16 is an "aggravating factor" which can result in a driver's license being revoked for longer periods of time, and other penalties.

KSTP says the 5-year-old was later picked up by his father.

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