Riding a snowmobile in Wisconsin is a popular pastime every winter. Laws govern the operation of snowmobiles, and according to the Wisconsin State Legislature, operating a snowmobile on public property while intoxicated is illegal and is subject to penalties that may include fines and jail time.
Assembly Bill 803 was introduced in 2015 to change many of the current aspects of the state's operating while intoxicated laws so that those who are charged with intoxicated snowmobiling or who refuse to take a blood, breath or urine test would face increased penalties.
The penalties for operating recreational vehicles and boats while intoxicated vary. However, if AB 803 is passed, a conviction for any of these would result in the highest of the current fees. Therefore, instead of $250 for a first offense, a snowmobile rider who is convicted of intoxicated operation would have to pay no less than $600. The penalties for the same conviction with a passenger under the age of 16 would be higher, as well.
Age-related OWI convictions
Although the legal blood alcohol concentration limit is currently .08 percent, those who are 18 and younger must not have any alcohol in their blood. The new bill would change that age to those under the age of 21.
Combining prior convictions
Under current law, recreational vehicle OWI charges are not all the same, and a conviction for one does not affect the use of another. For example, a person who is convicted of intoxicated boating does not suffer penalties that prevent him or her from operating a snowmobile. If a person is convicted of intoxicated snowmobiling after a prior conviction involving a different recreational vehicle, it is not considered a repeat offense.
Under the proposed legislation, an OWI conviction for any recreational vehicle in the previous five years would be counted as a first offense. Consequently, an intoxicated snowmobiling conviction would be considered a second offense if it followed an intoxicated all-terrain vehicle or utility terrain vehicle conviction. The suspension of recreational vehicle privileges on public or private property that is not owned by the operator or family members would include snowmobiles, boats, UTVs and ATVs.
Driver's license suspension
Repeat offenses can result in a driver's license suspension. So, if the new law passes, those who have an intoxicated snowmobiling conviction in addition to another recreational OWI conviction could lose their driver's licenses for six months. According to WISC TV, this legislation reinforces the belief that driving any vehicle while intoxicated is equally dangerous. This is the second time that this bill has been introduced.
Any OWI charge in Wisconsin can have effects that go beyond the expense of the penalties. An experienced DUI attorney may be able to provide legal representation to get the charges reduced or dropped altogether.