If you are operating an off-road recreational vehicle in Minnesota, then it is possible to get a DWI. If you wondering what qualifies as an off-road vehicle, or any vehicle for that matter, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself “does this have a motor in it?” As we learned in State v. Greenman, the Minnesota Court of Appeals analyzed whether a Segway was a motor vehicle for the purposes of a DUI. Because a Segway does not have a motor, but rather is “an electric personal assistive mobility device”, the court held that a Segway is not a motor vehicle for the purposes of charging someone with drunk driving.
According to Minnesota law, off-road recreational vehicles include: off-highway motorcycles; snowmobiles; all-terrain vehicles (ATVs); and other off-road vehicles. Minnesota defines “off-road vehicles” as a motor-driven recreational vehicle capable of cross-country travel without using a road. ATVs include motorized floatation-tired vehicles with three to six tires.
Off-road recreation is incredibly popular in Minnesota. There are tens of thousands of miles of trails for ATVs and snowmobiles throughout our state. If you are found driving while impaired while operating one of these off-road recreational vehicles, then you will be subject to criminal and civil penalties.
Criminally, DWI penalties for driving off-road recreational vehicles operate very similar to DUIs in a car. If you have any prior “qualified prior impaired driving incidents” within the past ten years, then you can be charged with a more serious DWI, such as a gross misdemeanor or felony level driving under the influence. Qualified prior impaired driving incidents include a prior DWI conviction or driving-related loss of license. Also, the same course of conduct to be charged with a DUI while operating an off-road recreational vehicle are the same as a DWI in a car, such as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more, driving while impaired – under the influence, driving while under the influence of a controlled substance, refusal, etc.
Civilly, if you are convicted of a driving under the influence while operating an off-road recreational vehicle as your first offense, then you will not lose your driving privileges to drive a car (Class D license). But, the State will take away your privileges to operate a snowmobile or ATV for a year. If you have any prior DWIs, whether driving a motor vehicle or off-road vehicles, and you are convicted of a DWI while driving an off-road recreational vehicle, then you will be subject to loss of driving privileges for a motor vehicle and off-road vehicles. If your lawyer can help you get your charges reduced and prevent a DUI conviction for driving an off-road recreational vehicle, then you will not be subject to loss of driving privileges.
Robert H. Ambrose is an Associate Attorney for the Kans Law Firm, LLC in Bloomington, Minnesota. Kans Law Firm is known for aggressively, creatively, and respectfully representing their clients in criminal cases throughout the state.