As winter descends upon Minnesota, many outdoor enthusiasts and adrenaline seekers will turn to snowmobiles, all terrain vehicles (ATVs), and other recreational vehicles for a bit of cold weather fun. While these activities generally take place off of the state’s roadways, the same DUI/DWI laws still apply. According to state law anyone operating a motorized vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater is guilty of Driving While Impaired/Driving Under the Influence (DWI/DUI). This holds true whether the vehicle is a car on Interstate 94, or a snowmobile on a backwoods trail. Indeed, as the law states, the DWI/DUI definitions apply to any motorized vehicle, including snowmobiles, ATVs, golf carts, and even riding lawn mowers. And not only does the definition apply to these lesser common modes of transportation, the penalties do as well.
While the penalties vary based on the circumstances, anyone charged with DWI/DUI, on any vehicle, faces both criminal and administrative penalties. Those accused of a first offense DWI/DUI with a BAC between 0.08% and 0.16% face a misdemeanor criminal charge, with penalties of up to ninety days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000. In addition they will also face the administrative penalty of a ninety day license suspension, which can be enforced in one of two ways: either no driving privileges for fifteen days, with a limited license for the remaining seventy-five days; or full driving privileges for ninety days with an ignition interlock device. It is important to note that these administrative penalties can be enforced regardless of the outcome of any criminal trial or court proceedings.
The penalties for those accused of operating any motorized vehicle with a BAC of greater than 0.16% are similar but more severe than those above. Criminally, the accused faces a gross misdemeanor charge, up to one year in jail, and/or a fine of up to $3000; while administratively they face a one year suspension of driving privileges, or one year of restricted driving with and ignition interlock device. The latter, again, are not dependent on the outcome of any court proceedings. Similarly, if the accused refuses to submit to a BAC test they face the same criminal and administrative penalties as those accused of driving with a BAC of 0.16% or greater. Those under the age of twenty-one can face a DWI/DUI charge even if their BAC is below 0.08%, and face penalties of up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $700, loss of driving privileges, and a citation for underage drinking.
In addition to the above penalties, the fallout from any DWI/DUI charge can be immense and life altering; regardless of the vehicle involved. The courts do not distinguish between DWI/DUI charges, whether the alleged offense involved a car, a golf cart, or a riding lawn-mower. The criminal and administrative penalties the accused faces are the same, as is the potential disruption of his or her life. Even a first offense DWI/DUI conviction may cost the accused their job, cause significant financial stress, and great personal stress. Those facing any sort of DWI/DUI charge should not hesitate to seek legal representation. Despite the seeming enormity of facing such a charge, the accused actually has numerous legal options that can be explored by a competent legal representative. While the circumstances of each case are unique, having a qualified attorney working on behalf of the accused greatly increases the chances of a favorable outcome, compared to facing the charges alone.
If you or someone you love are currently facing a DWI/DUI charge, please don’t hesitate to contact us immediately. As listed above, the consequences for even a first offense charge of this nature can be life-altering. You don’t have to face the legal system alone, however, and competent legal representation can be the most important factor in mitigating the potential negative effects. While a DWI/DUI charge involving an ATV, snowmobile, golf-cart, etc. may not seem as serious as one involving a car or truck, the prosecution and state law disagree, and will attempt to impose the same penalties. Don’t let the legal system catch you off-guard. Contact a legal representative today, and give yourself a fighting chance!