Minnesota is a winter wonderland that draws thousands of visitors thanks to outdoor activities such as skiing and snowmobiling. One favorite pastime is to take long treks with frequent stops between bars and restaurants along the way for a little refreshment; but when not done safely, this practice can result in a snowmobiling DWI for the driver, not to mention a serious injury or fatality.

Snowmobiling is a popular winter sport, especially in Minnesota.  Each winter thousands of snowmobile enthusiasts travel to Minnesota to enjoy the varied trails throughout the State’s beautiful regions. But before you head out on your snowmobile, you should be aware of laws concerning SWI in Minnesota.

The basic laws regarding snowmobiling while intoxicated are in many ways the same as those for boating while intoxicated, or for that matter, DWI or DUI.

Put simply, it is illegal to operate a snowmobile while you are under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or other hazardous substances such as some prescription or over-the-counter medications.

What Is SWI?

Essentially you can be charged with SWI for operating a snowmobile in an intoxicated condition. That is, snowmobiling with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. Once charged, evidence will be presented against the driver to prove his or her intoxication. Intoxication can be proven through different types of evidence including BAC chemical tests (breath, blood, or urine), law enforcement’s observations, and other factors.

Just as when you are driving a motor vehicle, you are considered impaired if you drive a snowmobile with an alcohol level of .08 or above. The same blood, breath or urine tests that determine DWI are used to assess the alcohol level for SWI. Refusing to take such a test is a crime, punishable by the loss of your driver’s license and snowmobiling privileges for a year.

What are the Penalties for SWI?

Penalties for snowmobiling while intoxicated may include:

  • If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you are subject to up to a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail, and you can lose your snowmobiling privileges for up to a year.
  • A gross misdemeanor is charged if you have previous drunk driving offenses or your blood alcohol content was .16 or more at the time of your arrest or up to two hours later, or you refused testing. A gross misdemeanor may also be charged if a child under the age of 16 was on the snowmobile with you at the time of the offense. Penalties include a fine up to $3,000, a maximum sentence of a year in jail, submission to long-term alcohol monitoring programs, loss of driving privileges, forfeiture of the snowmobile and impoundment of the motor vehicle plate.
  • If you have three or more DWI convictions within the past 10 years or a single prior felony DWI conviction, you may receive up to a seven-year prison sentence and be ordered to pay a fine up to $14,000.

What to do if you are charged with SWI

Snowmobiling, like many other outdoor activities, often coincides with alcohol consumption.  This can lead to an arrest for SWI.  Of course, the best way to avoid SWI is to avoid drinking while snowmobiling. However, if you have been charged, it is important to contact an experienced SWI lawyer immediately.

What DWI guys can offer you?

We will review your case to develop an effective snowmobiling while intoxicated defense strategy. If possible, we will seek to achieve a dismissal of the charge entirely. In some cases, we may be able to reduce a snowmobiling while intoxicated charge to a lesser charge of careless operation. It may be advisable to contest the charge at trial, particularly if you have a prior conviction for DWI.

As an experienced Minnesota SWI defense lawyer Meaney & Patrin can help reduce these charges. No matter what degree of SWI you are charged with, a criminal defense attorney can develop a strategy for defense that will ultimately lead to a favorable outcome. So call us today at 612-688-2299 .