Until now a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) citation would not prohibit people from taking to trails and waterways on boats, snowmobiles and ATVs while their street vehicle driving privileges were suspended. But a new change in Minnesota law will ban people who have a DWI from those activities, reported MPR News.
Alan Geisenkoetter, an 8-year-old Wyoming, Minn., boy was killed when a snowmobile driven by 45-year-old Eric Coleman hit Geisenkoetter and his family’s ice fishing shelter in January. Coleman had two previous DWI convictions and was facing another charge. But state law didn’t prevent him from driving motorized recreational vehicles like snowmobiles, ATVs and boats.
A first-time DWI on a recreation vehicle also didn’t “count” toward road driving restrictions, Department of Natural Resources officials said. Now it will. “This legislation makes our roadways, trail systems, and waterways much safer here in the state of Minnesota,” said Col. Rodmen Smith, head of enforcement for the DNR.
“There is a cultural change in this state moving away from ‘Alcohol is not a problem when it comes to when I’m recreating’,” Smith said. “And that’s one of the reasons these loopholes existed in the first place, because when DWI laws were starting to form, people said ‘No I’m out having fun on my water craft or on my snowmobile and I shouldn’t be held to the same standard.’ But make no mistake, people see that [those operating] recreational vehicles can kill people just as easily as they can in a minivan or a pickup truck or any other traditional motor vehicle.”
Will more states follow Minnesota’s lead?