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Little Alan’s Law: Now operating snowmobiles, ATVs and boats could be off limits if convicted of DWI in Minnesota

Leave the snowmobile in storage if you’re convicted of DWI in Minnesota this winter.

A new law that took effect Aug. 1 makes it illegal for Minnesotans convicted of DWI to drive snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and boats in addition to cars, trucks and vans if their driver’s licenses are suspended or revoked.

State lawmakers introduced the measure following the February 2018 death of an 8-year-old boy who was killed by snowmobiler who plowed through his family’s ice fishing spot on Chisago Lake. Alan Geisenkoetter Jr.and his dad were setting up their fish house as the snowmobile tore through their spot and struck them. Both were thrown across the ice. The father, Alan Geisenkoetter Sr., was injured but recovered.

A grand jury indicted the accused snowmobiler, Eric J. Coleman of Chisago City. He was charged with third-degree murder, criminal vehicular homicide and DWI; he faces 12/12 years in prison on the murder charge if convicted.

Prosecutors learned that Coleman’s driver’s license had been revoked after multiple DWI convictions. That discovery promoted lawmakers to act.

Before the change in the law, motorists convicted of DWI whose license was suspended or revoked were still legally allowed to operate snowmobiles, ATVs and boats.

At the same time, a person convicted of DWI while operating a snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle or while driving a boat will lose his or her driver’s licenses for a year. The new law applies to anything that someone can operate.

That meanssomeone is convicted of a DWI while operating a snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle or a boat, he or she will have to face the same punishment as men and women convicted of driving while impaired when behind the wheel of an automobile; license suspension, fines, drug and alcohol tests, conditional release and more.

“We have zero tolerance for people who endanger themselves and other people by operating a motor vehicle or recreational vehicle while they’re intoxicated,” Col. Rodmen Smith, director of the Minnesota DNR Enforcement Division, said in a statement. “This new law should send the message that drinking and driving – no matter what the vehicle – isn’t acceptable and the consequences are severe.”

The new law, called “Little Alan’s Law,” was introduced as a way to close what lawmakers had seen as a loophole in the state’s driving while impaired law. Little Alan’s Law broadens the state driving while impaired while impaired laws, regardless of whether the vehicle being operated is a car, truck, van, snowmobile, ATV or boat.

Lawmakers in approving Little Alan’s Law also changed the underagedriving and driving criminal offenses to include snowmobiles, ATVs and boats. All three had been excluded before the provisions were tweaked.

Under the zero-tolerance law, any young adult under the legal driving age of 21 who is caught drinking even a drop of alcohol will be cited for underage drinking and driving. A misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine. If the offender is under 18, the offense is prosecuted in juvenile rather than adult court.

If you’re and adult arrested for driving while impaired – some people and states refer to the citation as  DUI, or driving under the influence – you will lose your driver’s license for up to a year year if it’s a first time offense. A BAC under 0.16 can suspend your license for up to 90 days. A BAC over 0.16 can lead to a year’s suspension. In any instance, your driving privileges can be limited to work or with the use of an ignition lock, which means you can’t start your car until you blow into a device that measures your blood alcohol level.

Keep in mind, state DWI laws refer not only to drunk driving; you can get a DWI if an officer believes you are impaired by illegal drugs like marijuana (still prohibited in Minnesota) and cocaine, but also if you are using legal, prescription drugs like Xanax or pain medication.

It likely seems as though the law makes it impossible to challenge the officer’s assessment as well as your potential loss of a license to drive a vehicle and operate a snowmobile, ATV or boat. Even so, you should reach out to an experienced Minnesota DWI attorney as soon as you’re arrested.

The courts give defendants 60 days to file a motion with a judge to dismiss the charges based on any lack of merit as well as fight the suspension of your license. It doesn’t matter where, when or how you were cited for driving while impaired; every circumstance is worth looking at.

Don’t go it alone. Don’t use a public defender. In many cases, DWI penalties can be reduced or even eliminated – but only if you have experienced legal representation for your case.

What to do? 

A drunk driving citation in Minnesota is known as a DWI, which stands for driving while impaired. Many states refer to the charge as a DUI, short for diving under the influence.

Regardless of what authorities call it, a police officer can arrest someone on suspicion of DWI even if he or she hasn’t been drinking. In Minnesota, “impaired” can be applied to a person who is taking legal prescription drugs or even someone who is overly tired. It’s all up to the discretion of the arresting officer.

Sound like you or someone you know? Contact the experienced Minnesota DWI attorneys Gerald Miller, P.A. Our expert team will look at your case and determine the best course of action. We will guide you through the process, working toward a positive outcome no matter the circumstances of the arrest.

We are often asked, “Should I contest this case?” Yes. You should, absolutely, positively 100 percent of the time. Every arrest is different; few are open and shut cases. We look at every aspect of the case, from time of the arrest to the officer’s actions to the accuracy of your Breathalyzer test. There is always hope.

What makes Gerald Miller different from other Minnesota criminal defense lawyers?

The Minneapolis lawyers at Gerald Miller handle all aspects of criminal law across the Twin Cities and statewide – we can defend you on traffic citations, drug charges, theft, weapons charges, probation and parole violations and more – but we have specialized in DWIs for decades. A DWI affects your driving ability, your finances and your professional reputation. Don’t let one mistake hinder a promising future.

We can help you put this behind you.

Call the attorneys at Gerald Miller today at 612-440-4610. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to give you some answers, a little hope and plenty of well-deserved peace of mind.

You can email us here. We can also be reached on Facebook, Twitterand LinkedIn.

A DWI or DUI charge can happen to anybody. We are on your side.

About the author

Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller is a top-notch and experienced DWI/DUI lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. in Minneapolis, MN. He has more than 35 years of experience in Criminal Defense practice. He has also been a mentor to numerous DUI/DWI defense attorneys.

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