Child’s Death Could Bring Law Change for Snowmobiles

Snow Mobile

The death of an 8-year-old boy who was struck by a snowmobile has spurred Minnesota legislators to advance a bill that would make drunk driving a similarly punished offense no matter the vehicle being operated according to ABC Eyewitness News.

Alan Geisenkoetter, Jr. suffered severe brain damage and died in January after he was struck on Chisago Lake and prosecutors say the snowmobile’s driver was intoxicated and has a history of drunk driving and license revocations.

Investigators say Eric Coleman admitted to drinking before hitting Alan Geisenkoetter, Jr. and his father on Chisago Lake. Coleman now faces several charges, including criminal vehicular homicide.

“I heard the snowmobile, I looked over, I saw the headlight go on,” mother Eleanor Geisenkoetter told ABC Eyewitness News. “Alan [Jr.] then ran to the back of the truck to look and watch it go by and it came right into him.”

Alan Jr. was taken to the hospital but died several days later.

As well as being a terrible tragedy for all concerned, the death of Alan Geisenkoetter, Jr. has put the laws regarding using a Snowmobile while under the influence in the spotlight once again.

Current laws regarding Snowmobiles in Minnesota

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.

The new proposed law change would get rid of a statute that prevents a first-time snowmobile DWI offender from losing their regular driver’s license. Instead, those offenders would lose their regular driver’s license for the same length of time they would if they had been operating a motor vehicle on the roadway.

The Penalties for SWI

Penalties for snowmobiling while intoxicated may include;

  • 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.
  • 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.

Have you been charged with an SWI?

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 612-223-6595.