James David Gray allegedly said he has “a bad drinking problem.”

The 68-year-old Florida man, who was arrested on Tuesday and charged with driving a lawn mower while intoxicated, said he has been drinking since he was 16, can’t control his habit and needs help.

During the last two years, Gray, who receives a disability cheque, said he had not taken a sip of alcohol. Before that, he said, he used to drink a 12-pack a day.

But on his way home in Citra after cutting grass on Tuesday, Gray said he stopped at a convenience store and purchased an 18-pack of Natural Ice because he was hot and depressed.

Gray said he was depressed because the $459 a month from his disability cheque and the $300 a month he earns from cutting grass is not enough.

It was a bad decision.

Marion County sheriff’s Deputy Rick Palmateer was doing a security check in the Lakes and Meadows subdivision in Citra when he noticed Gray riding the red lawn mower south in the northbound lane.

Stopping the mower, Palmateer found that Gray’s eyes were bloodshot and his speech was slurred.

The deputy said Gray’s breath had a strong smell of alcohol and there was a cold beer open in a cup holder on the lawn mower.

Gray said that when the deputy stopped him he had only four beers left. He had ridden about 2½ miles from the store, Gray said.

He had another half mile to go to his residence, where he lives with his sister. Palmateer reported that Gray failed a field sobriety test.

He was taken to the Marion County Jail, where breath tests showed he had a blood alcohol level of .138 and .147. Those results are well above the .08 level at which one is presumed to be too intoxicated to drive.

Gray was charged with DUI.

The deputy checked his record and found that Gray had been convicted four times for DUI. With this arrest, Gray violated his felony drug probation, which had begun on July 9, 2011, and was slated to end July 8, 2013.

As for the lawn mower, Gray said he handed it over to his sister.

He said was it rented and he had just made the first payment of $127 a month.

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