Man accused of drinking, driving lawn tractor maintains innocence

The man accused of drinking and driving a lawn tractor in Melrose says he’s ready to serve 11 days in jail, beginning today.

George Rierson, 36, was arrested on Aug. 7 and charged with driving on a revoked license and carrying an open container of alcohol.

Despite pleading guilty to the charges, Rierson maintains his innocence.

“I took the plea because they were going to put me in jail for a year,” Rierson said. “I wasn’t drinking and driving. I had an open container that was empty — that was it. He (the police officer) just smelled it and, of course it smelled like it, because I had beer in it earlier that day.”

Police Officer Dean Marney, who pulled Rierson over to tell him to put reflectors on a trailer he was towing, said Rierson kept drinking from the cup and had a slurred voice during the encounter.

“Really, I could’ve got him for DWI and I went for the minimum on this guy,” Marney said. “The thing is, he is a danger to himself and others.”

Rierson said he had a prior DWI charge while living in Albuquerque. He also said he suffers from multiple sclerosis and effects of the disease may have contributed to his appearance of drunkenness.

“That’s my only transportation and the reason I drive that around is that I have MS. My coordination is way off,” Rierson said. “I take the chance of walking around and possibly falling. Whenever I got off the lawn mower, he claimed that I stumbled, which I did — but I do that all the time.

“Whether I’m drunk or not, I walk around all the time looking drunk,” he added.

Marney, the only police officer in the village of Melrose, said he didn’t remember Rierson ever bringing up having multiple sclerosis.

“Not that I recall. Even if he did, it would’ve been irrelevant to me, because the guy was drinking,” Marney said.