Can You Get a DUI on a Snowmobile in Wisconsin?

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The general public does not view recreational vehicles (snowmobiles, ATV’s and UTV’s, etc) as they would a regular car or automobile. And in turn, the general public doesn’t consider the consequences for recreational vehicle drunk driving offenses. However, under Wisconsin law, a snowmobile meets the definition of a “motor vehicle” (i..e., engine-driven vehicle) and thus the question of whether one can be cited for a drunk driving offense (i.e., OWI or DUI) when operating a snowmobile in Wisconsin – is answered “Yes.”
Wisconsin law treats driving or operating a snowmobile while under the influence of alcohol or drugs very similar to driving or operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. The legal – or illegal – blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for operating a snowmobile in Wisconsin is typically the same as for driving a car, which is 0.08%.

Who May Operate A Snowmobile In WI?

A driver’s license is not required to operate a snowmobile. However, there are restrictions based on age and birth year. No person under 12 may use a snowmobile unless accompanied by a parent or guardian or someone over 18. The statute defines “accompany” as being on the same snowmobile as the operator.

In addition, any snowmobile driver who is at least 12 years of age and born on or after January 1, 1985, may only operate a snowmobile if they hold a valid snowmobile safety certificate. If a snowmobile driver is required to have a safety certificate, they must carry proof of the certificate and display it upon request from law enforcement.

What Is The Legal Alcohol Limit On A Snowmobile?

Much like operating motor vehicles, it is illegal to:

  1. Operate a snowmobile under the influence of an intoxicant “to a degree which renders the person incapable of safe snowmobile operation.”
  2. Have an alcohol concentration of .08 or more when operating a snowmobile.
  3. If the person is not 19, they may not operate the snowmobile with an alcohol concentration of more than 0.0 but not more than 0.08.
  4. Have a detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance in their blood.

If Stopped On A Snowmobile, Do I Have To Provide A Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) Sample?

Wisconsin state law requires a person to provide a sample of their breath for a preliminary breath screening test if the officer has “probable cause to believe” the person is operating while intoxicated. The PBT is only for the purpose of confirming that the officer had probable cause to arrest. There is no penalty for refusing the preliminary breath test.

Where Can I Be Arrested For Drunk Snowmobiling In WI?

Snowmobile operators can be arrested for drunk driving on publicly or privately owned land regardless of whether a fee is charged for using that property.
On private land not designated as a snowmobile trail, it does not apply unless an accident involving injury occurs and the snowmobile was operated on the private land without the consent of the land owner.

Do I Have To Provide A Chemical Sample If Arrested For Drunk Snowmobiling?

According to Wis. Stat. §350.103, any person who operates a snowmobile on the public land highways of Wisconsin has already given (implied) consent to provide a sample of their breath, blood or urine.

Before requesting the sample, law enforcement must inform the person that:

  1. They are deemed to have consented to the tests under Wis. Stat. §350.103.
  2. A refusal to provide a sample is subject to the same penalties and procedures as a violation of operating while under the influence while snowmobiling.
  3. Besides the test requested by the officer, the driver may have an additional chemical test.

What about an unconscious person who is incapable of withdrawing consent for a chemical test. In such a situation, Wisconsin law presumes that the person did not withdraw consent (but only if law enforcement has probable cause to believe the person was operating while intoxicated.)

What Happens If I Refuse To Provide A Sample?

The refusal to provide a sample is subject to the same penalties and procedures as a violation of operating under the influence while snowmobiling.

What Are The Penalties For Snowmobiling While Intoxicated?

A first-time offender will be fined not less than $400 nor more than $550.

A second offense with a prior snowmobile OWI (or refusal conviction) within five years of the current offense will be fined no less than $300 or more than $1,000 and imprisoned for less than five days or more than six months.

A person who, within five years before their arrest for the current violation, was convicted two or more times of a snowmobile OWI or refusal violation will be fined not less than $600 nor more than $2,000 and shall be imprisoned not less than 30 days nor more than one year in the county jail.

Any person who fails to stop at the request of law enforcement or causes injury to another while operating a snowmobile while intoxicated will be fined not less than $300 nor more than $2,000 and may be imprisoned for not less than 30 days nor more than one year in the county jail.

In addition to the penalties listed above, a conviction will result in an order by the court to submit to, and comply with, an assessment of the person’s use of alcohol or controlled substances.

Consult With Counsel

If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving on a snowmobile in Wisconsin, don’t wait to contact a competent legal defense. The experienced drunk driving defense attorneys at Mays Law Office, LLC will fight for you and help you through the legal process.

Our firm has nearly 80 years and a proven track record of success in representing our clients in all sorts of drunk driving and other criminal and workers compensation cases. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.