According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10,497 people died in the United States in 2016 as a result of an alcohol-related vehicle crashes; 1,233 of those were under the age of 14.
In Minnesota alone, there were 25,027 impaired driving incidents in 2015, more than 300 of which led to injury or death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2014 that 2.4 percent of Minnesotans admitted to driving after drinking too much, a fraction that doesn’t account for the unknown number of people who aren’t willing to admit to that offense.
We think of many of these alcohol-impaired crashes as occurring on the highway in cars and trucks, but there are also deaths and injuries as a result of driving an all-terrain vehicle while intoxicated. Because it poses a danger to both the driver and others, you can be arrested for driving an ATV while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the repercussions can be as severe as if you were behind the wheel of a traditional car.
All-Terrain Vehicle DWI
Minnesota Statute 169A.20.1b clearly states it is against the law to operate a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle if:
- You are under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.
- You are under the influence of a substance that affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles, and thereby impairs your ability to drive.
- You are under the influence of a combination of the substances referenced above.
- You have a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or more within two hours of the time you were operating the vehicle.
- Your body has any amount of a Schedule I or II controlled substance aside from marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols.
If you are arrested for all-terrain vehicle DWI, you may be charged with first-, second-, third-, or fourth- degree DWI. Your charges depend upon whether or not you have prior DWI incidents, have committed another felony, or whether there are other aggravating factors that influence your situation. Aggravating factors include the following:
(1) a qualified prior impaired driving incident within the ten years immediately preceding the current offense;
(2) having an alcohol concentration of 0.16 or more as measured at the time, or within two hours of the time, of the offense; or
(3) having a child under the age of 16 in the motor vehicle at the time of the offense if the child is more than 36 months younger than the offender.
Of course, the situation is even more serious if someone gets hurt or killed because you were driving an all-terrain vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In these situations, sentencing could include years of jail time.
Potential Outcomes of DWI Charges
Fourth-degree driving while impaired is a misdemeanor that may result in:
- Up to 90 days in jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
- 90 days of limited or no driving privileges
- 90 days of driving with ignition interlock
The ignition interlock program started in 2011.
“The Ignition Interlock Device Program enhances public safety by giving the eligible alcohol offender the option of having an ignition interlock device installed on his or her vehicle, helping to ensure safe and legal driving. The device is the size of a hand-held calculator and includes a blowing tube. It prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects a certain alcohol concentration level after the driver blows into the tube. The device is installed near the steering wheel and connected to the engine.”
The repercussions can add up more quickly if you’re charged with third- or second-degree DWI (gross misdemeanors) or first degree DWI (a felony). Depending upon aggravating factors and prior incidents, punishments for second or third degree convictions may include:
- Up to one year in jail
- A fine of up to $3,000
- Community service
- Probation with electronic monitoring
- Alcohol classes
- Required use of ignition interlock
- Loss of driving privileges, or restricted driving privileges
- Loss of your vehicle
Four DWI charges in a 10-year period is a first-degree charge, and you could face up to seven years in jail and/or a $14,000 fine, in addition to the loss of your license and even your vehicle. Your alcohol use may be monitored via ignition interlock for several years.
You also have to consider the lasting impact on your career and relationships. A conviction may mean time away from your family, loss of your job, and loss of resources that could have been used to enhance your own life and the lives of the people you love. You may lose the trust of your spouse, children, or friends. Having a felony on your record could impact your life for years to come.
The sooner you can close this chapter and get back to your life, the better.
What to Do If You’ve Been Arrested for All-Terrain Vehicle DWI
No matter what you’ve done, you have the right to expert legal representation. Even if you are guilty of driving a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle under the influence of alcohol, there may be circumstances that can lead to a gentler sentence if convicted. In some cases, you may be able to plead guilty to a lesser charge to help you avoid a longer prison sentence.
In other cases, you may have been falsely accused. There could be issues with the accuracy of the breath test, and in some cases you may have been pulled over and tested without reasonable suspicion. Given the ongoing impact of a conviction, you owe it to yourself to hire an attorney who can examine all the details of your case.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is taken seriously in Minnesota and throughout the country. Unfortunately, good people sometimes make mistakes, and at that point we do what we need to do to get back on track. It’s our job to consider the unique circumstances and find the best possible outcome for you.
If you’ve been arrested for all-terrain vehicle DWI, contact us immediately. Call us at (952) 851-9500; we will discuss your case with you and prepare to give you the defense you deserve.