Police: Drunk Zamboni Driver Had 0.32 BAC

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An Apple Valley man accused of driving a zamboni while drunk had a blood alcohol content of 0.32, according to a criminal complaint.

Police say they were dispatched around 8 p.m. Jan. 30 to Hayes Ice Arena in Apple Valley, where witnesses reported seeing 34-year-old Joel Keith Bruss driving the zamboni while intoxicated.

The witnesses said the driver missed portions of the ice with the machine and had been running into the boards around the rink. They also said he smelled of alcohol.

An officer approached Bruss, who appeared to have gotten the zamboni stuck and was attempting to get it back on track. The officer approached Bruss, while he was still seated on the machine, and detected a strong odor of alcohol. Police asked Bruss to come off the zamboni and noted that he was having troubles balancing, according to the complaint.

Bruss admitted to police he was drinking before coming to work. He was asked to perform some field sobriety tests, which police say he performed “poorly.”

Bruss was placed under arrest and transported to the Apple Valley Police Department. He submitted a urine test, which later revealed an alcohol concentration of 0.32.

Bruss has been charged with four counts of driving while impaired.

A review of Bruss’ driving record revealed he was convicted of a DUI in 2003 and two other DUIs, with an alcohol concentration of more than .20 from 1999 from two separate incidents.

  • Spin Doctor

    The fumes from the zamboni made me do it. honestly
    No? – well, I just came from a GOP pow wow at the bar. They forced me to drink. scouts honor

    • Richie Taylor

      Who doesn’t drive their zamboni drunk? This is hilarious, too bad there are so many Dudley-Do-Right dorks out there trying to keep the good times in check. I seriously don’t want to live in a world with sober zamboni drivers, lame.

      • Sandy

        You rock Richie Taylor! Right on… lol

      • Ryan

        Yeah, until he causes damage to the rink or injures someone else. I know you’re being facetious, but still.

        • Zamboni Diver

          Ryan’s lame post makes me want another drink.

    • Hockey you bet

      He was driving an electric Zam. Virtually fumeless.

  • that guy

    I didn’t even know that was illegal. Please CCO, can you please try to not act as the PR dept for the local PDs?

    • lanny

      I know of a guy that got a DUI on a mortorized skateboard.

    • Swamp Fox

      He is driving a specialized licensed motor vehicle. Even if he was driving this Zamboni or a dune buggy across ice or the Mojave Desert he is subject to motor vehicle laws on all levels–local, state, and/or Federal. Incidentally, even pedaling or riding a bicycle in public could trigger a DUI offense or a public nuisance D&D charge. So before you complain about the news messenger check your facts/laws first.

      • MN Cop

        You cannot get a DWI on a bicycle…or a horse…only in a motor vehicle as defined in statute.

        “Motor vehicle” means every vehicle that is self-propelled and every vehicle that is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires. The term includes motorboats in operation and off-road recreational vehicles, but does not include a vehicle moved solely by human power.

        • pumphandle

          Earth to you, Minnesota is a CC state that means conceal and carry, not open carry, stick to watching videos on youtube chimp.

        • wondering

          Hi MN Cop- What about the fact that he wasn’t on public roads. Can he really be charged with a DWI on an empty ice rink?

          • MN Cop

            Yes he can. You cannot operate a vehicle anywhere in the state while in violation of MN’s DWI laws.

        • Swamp Fox

          @Kevin & MN cop;
          The determining factor is “self-propulsion”! I have friends, commercial drivers, who let their vehicles[cars & trucks] at home to join in a big retirement celebration of friends. They didn’t want to “drive” home because it would affect the employment.

          Surprise, the local constabulary was waiting for them with DUI violations and D&D violation tickets. In the end the DUI’s were dismissed but the D&D’s where kept on their records for a year.

          Now don’t tell me about DUI’s on bicycles, I was stop once for this but the cop told me to walk the bike home so I wouldn’t be charged. Remember bicycles have to ahere to the laws as well as Zambonis. Enforcement is up to local authorities and instances.

          • MN Cop

            Well there are probably a few cops who believe the “myth” that you can be arrested while on a bike…but probably very few. And probably only in the very poorly trained small town one officer departments…I would have thrown out the entire case including the drunk and disorderly’s if I was the judge on that one.

        • MN Cop

          Well Kevin I guess you are the expert in DWI law….Riiiight. Again you CANNOT get a DWI on a pedal bike…or on a horse or a donkey or a camel or an elephant. Below is subdivision 1 of the statute.


          Subdivision 1.Driving while impaired crime; motor vehicle. It is a crime for any person to drive, operate, or be in physical control of any motor vehicle, as defined in section 169A.03, subdivision 15, except for motorboats in operation and off-road recreational vehicles, within this state or on any boundary water of this state when:

          and it goes on to say when you are impaired or above a .08 and on and on. The definition of a motor vehicle is as I posted above. Has to be self-propelled. Period.

          • JuJu Bee

            @MN Cop – Last I knew, a horse is self-propelled (per your “dessciptions” listed in your earlier posts). A human can be sitting atop one, and still not go anywhere unless the horse moves it own legs. So, why wouldn’t someone get a DUI if riding a horse drunk?

            • MN Cop

              A horse is not considered a MOTOR vehicle…I guess you could stretch it and say it is a vehicle, but the DWI statute specifically says motor vehicle, so a horse would not apply.Both motor vehicle and vehicle are specifically defined in statute.

              • Swamp Fox

                @MN Cop
                Your comments add some great civility to the thread but from real life instances regarding DWI/DUI arrests why then are these various local ordinances muddling are understanding of DWI enforcement?

                Can I presume you are an official sworn officer of law enforcement? Can I also presume you must be in a bigger urban municipality or a state trooper than a suburban officer?

                Now, then, would you agree that the DWI laws, though primarily written for “motorized” vehicles of any sort, also can be [loosely translated] viably enforceable to all vehicles/conveyances that are operated by people or carry people regardless of power, locomotion, or propulsion system? — Whether it be a car, truck, horse or horse drawn carriage, wheeled conveyance, &/or soap box derby car or unicycle? If the person[s] in control of said conveyance is under the influence and endangering life, property, and/or others aren’t they subject to DUI laws like regular vehicle drivers?

                What would you do if a person under the influence was recklessly riding his/her bike on public by-ways or highways? That’s the crux of the discussion for many of us…

                • MN Cop

                  I work for a mid sized out state agency, I am a deputy sheriff. I arrest by far more DWI offenders than anyone else in my area. I make it my mission to get everyone home safely…sometimes that is after a day or weekend in jail…but home safe. I feel for the person. I know it sucks to be arrested for DWI. I know it’s expensive. But I also know what it is like to arrive to a deadly crash and have to pass the news to loved ones.

                  The state statute on DWI is very clear. It states that the person must be operating or in physical control of a MOTOR VEHICLE. By definition that does not include bicycles. I would not say that there are not any city ordinances out there prohibiting drunk bicycling, but I highly doubt it. I would imagine that any arrest stemming from such an incident was more than likely for disorderly conduct or obstruction.

                  If I were to come across a bicyclist in that situation, and the only reason for my contact was that he was a danger to himself? A ride home to a sober person who is willing to care for him, if not then a trip to Detox depending on his level of intoxication.

                  I take my job very seriously and know what I can and can’t do. My greatest duty is to the safety and well being of those that live in my community. It is my job to do what I can to make it a safe place to work and play. It is not my job to be overzealous and make up stuff like this to get an arrest…

                • Swamp Fox

                  @MN Cop
                  Thank you for your comments. After doing some checking with a friend or two I find that in the end most initial DUI charges are relegated to self-endangerment, D-&-D, or public nuisance charges.

                  Most of these lessor charges relate to local ordinances. However, in one case, being Under the Influence and arrested while riding a bike, on a city [suburban] highway, was grounds enough for the cyclist to be charged, fined, and suspended from his job [bus driver] until treatment was completed.

                  Again, I appreciate your candid responses to my comments.
                  Thank you,

          • jackactionhero

            I know someone who got a DUI on a bicycle. He was in fact convicted and sentenced for it in Minnesota. So it seems you’re wrong.

            • Swamp Fox

              You are correct for this has happened to some folks I know. When contested in court, the state DUI law was bolstered by ordinance language of the local governing authorities. What the state law doesn’t cover the local ordinances do. Either way, if you under the the influence of any intoxicants you are going to busted for operating, using, or just fixing a propelled, by any means, vehicle. Thus, the Zamboni is going to pay for his drinking and operating the ice machine surfacer. Oh, before I forget, don’t forget related charges of [pending] Drunk-&-Disorderly &/or creating/being a public nuisance in a public building. The law does have a long reach if totally enforced.

              • MN Cop

                You mind telling my the local authority that this happened in so that I can check ordinances related to DWI?

          • WI Mower

            MN Cop, you need to stick to writing tickets and forget about making legal arguments.

            You cited the definition of “Motor vehicle” as “‘Motor vehicle’ means every vehicle that is self-propelled . . . ”

            That’s not enough definition. You have to then look at the legal definition of “vehicle” which is defined as “Subd. 2. Vehicle. “Vehicle” means every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, excepting devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.”

            Zamboni may be self propelled, but it is not a vehicle. It is a tool much like a floor scrubber or lawn mower. You just happen to sit on it and control it. Would mowing grass on a rider with BAC > 0.08 be DWI?

        • max

          on cops the othr day the cops arrested a mexican dude on his bicycle for impaired operation on a bycycle,an possesion of crack to of course.

  • Lakewood 4 are burning

    Who cares

    • Frogweather

      I care! Every fun thing in this life is now deemed illegal. The zamboni was the last oasis.

  • Rita

    I would imagine he wont have another job like that again dummy

    • Hockey you bet

      He got that job from doing his “sentenced to serve” from a previous DUI. The arena mgr liked him and hired him and it came back to bite him in the ass!

      • get 'er done

        Now that is irony. And funny.

  • JoJo

    I hope they take his Zamboni liscense…..lol

  • Time to evaluate your situation

    I wonder if he is ready to admit he is powerless?

    • barbie

      He wants to find an easier softer way… keep looking… and let me know when you find it…

  • Senor

    0.32 is that all?

  • Oops

    I worked in an arena for eight years and drove resurfacers thousands of times. I knew Joel from working with the city in a joint venture rink. I would have thought that he was smarter than to go to work tanked when you can call off and save yourself some big problems! It’s a disease, yes but poor judgement is not.

  • Jus

    ZWD Zomboning While Drunk – thats A new one!

    I dont exactly think that the zig zag pattern helped the rank… I heard he also got a speeding ticket for doing .000001 miles over the rank Speed limit.

  • Andy

    As much as I don’t want to agree with a cop he is right. You cannot get a DWI on a bike. However the cop can give a public intoxication, or disorderly conduct.

    • Now that's funny...

      There isn’t such a thing as public intoxication in Minnesota. A disorderly conduct charge would be difficult in this case.

    • Amy

      Mr. Officer probably knows what he is talking about in the STATE he is in. HOWEVER, EACH STATE has there own laws and you are right about public intoxication on bikes, etc! Stranger things have happened!

  • A stern warning

    I just hope this will not ruin this young mans life after all he did not kill anybody like Amy Sensor did.

  • Kevin

    I would definitely do him.

  • Now that's funny...

    That zamboni is subject to forfeiture…the Apple Valley PD should be proud owners of a nice zamboni. They should put “Seized from a Drunk Driver” on the back of it.

    • Hockey you bet

      The problem with the AV cops seizing the Zam is that the city who employs the cops already own the Zamboni! And the cops who arrested Joel are employed by the same city that Joel works for.

  • Grynch

    I’m pretty sure everybody clears the ice when the zamboni comes out and that ice rinks are enclosed and surrounded by walls. It’s perfectly safe to have a few drinks and play with a big boy toy. The worse that could happen is he could lose his job or the ice wouldn’t get fully cleaned up. With all those priors he’s obviously got an alcohol problem though. Of course if jackactionhero had his way the PD would’ve shot him on site execution style.

    • jackactionhero

      Nope. I don’t condone that sentence for this crime.

  • Brett

    I’m surprised that he didn’t crash through the boards. Those boards aren’t exactly made out of concrete, and a Zamboni weighs a LOT, maybe 3 or 4 tons, if not more.

    • Hockey you bet

      That Zam weighs a lot since it is packed with a few hundred gallons of water plus quite a few lead acid batteries. But to go through the dasher boards you would have to hit the dead on at a good speed. He most likely was hitting them at an angle so the Zams board snubbers wheels would have straightened him out. No doubt he may have been rattling the boards good though!

  • Sgt

    I wonder if he wasnt drinking the Blonde from the other article

  • Brett

    So will they put “whiskey plates” on the Zamboni now??

  • Zamboni Demolition Derby

    I’d pay to watch 5-6 Zamboni’s in the rink. Winner – last man standing – or sitting if he can’t stand.

  • zzzzzzzz

    This is why america is the worst country on Earth.

    • Chris

      ‘america’ is the worst country on Earth because a guy was drunk on a Zamboni? You obviously haven’t traveled much. I think your mom is calling you.. time to get off the computer.

  • Commonsenseyall

    They’ll probably give this guy 30 years and make him bow down to that ninny cult organization MADD and listen to victim impact statements for hours WHILE I just read the story of a CHILD MOLESTER that was out on bail and attacked his girlfriend by strangulation then one by one killed her dog and her dog’s 8 young puppies…We need to take a long hard look at our judicial system while violent child sexual predators are out on bail and drunk drivers are committing suicide over the severity of DD laws!!!!!

  • Old Salt

    I could see public drunkeness, but DUI? on private property? I hardly think so. Could you write someone for DUI on their lawn mower on private property?

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