As a beautiful Minnesota summer moves towards fall and winter, many people are beginning to think about a favorite past-time here, which is exploring the countryside on a snowmobile. Although a popular recreational sport, it is important to realize that people are pulled over and arrested for operating a snowmobile under the influence (SWI) of drugs or alcohol on a regular basis. The penalties for being stopped and charged can be severe.
Pursuant to Minnesota law, a person may be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) for operating any type of motorized vehicle, including boats, all-terrain vehicles, and snowmobiles. Even a person who has one too many drinks and gets on a riding lawnmower may find him or herself facing DWI charges. Many arrests in the colder months involve people who have gone out to enjoy friends and family on a snowmobile, but have had a little too much to drink and have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. The consequences for conviction on these charges is severe.
As with other charges relating to operating a vehicle while intoxicated, law enforcement officers are required to have reasonable suspicion before stopping a vehicle. Many times, an SWI is charged after a law enforcement officer has observed a snowmobiler operating the vehicle in a dangerous or unpredictable manner, viewed the operator with bloodshot or watery eyes, has smelled alcohol on the operator’s breath, noted a disheveled or soiled appearance, and determined that the individual failed the administered field sobriety tests. However, each of the elements that were used to establish reasonable suspicion for the stop and probable cause for the arrest may be effectively challenged, depending on the unique aspects of the case. There is a lot of ambiguity in the “standards” used to demonstrate that a person was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is important to take advantage of every available resource because the consequences of conviction are severe.
A person who has been charged with snowmobiling while intoxicated (SWI) as a first offense may be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail, fined up to $1,000.00, and may lose the right to operate a snowmobile for up to one year. Even with a first offense, if there are aggravating factors, such as a BAC of .16 or a previous conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI), the penalties may be much more severe. Under these circumstances, the SWI may be charged as a gross misdemeanor, or even a felony, and the jail sentence and fines will increase in conjunction with the elevated charges.
Second Offense or More
As already stated, a person who previously has been convicted of SWI may face a mandatory jail sentence, loss of driving privileges and hefty fines. Depending on the seriousness of the enhancements present after a first offense, these penalties might be a possibility in those cases as well.
Many times, a prosecutor will attempt to persuade a person who has been charged with SWI into a quick plea deal, but it is imperative for anyone facing these charges to contact a skilled Minnesota SWI Defense Attorney as soon as possible after an arrest to minimize the impact that these charges will have on his or her future.
Call Kans Law Firm, LLC If You Have Been Charged with SWI or DWI in Minnesota
Minneapolis SWI Defense Lawyer Douglas T. Kans of the Kans Law Firm, LLC has spent nearly two decades representing individuals who have been charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, earning him top ratings. If you have been arrested and charged SWI, DWI, or any related charge, Mr. Kans will carefully review the specific facts of your case, devise a unique strategy, and vigorously fight to protect your rights and freedom. Call (952) 835-6314 to learn how Douglas Kans will advocate aggressively for you.