The House unanimously approved a bill last month that will apply the DWI law to ATVs and snowmobiles.
The legislation was inspired by the death of Alan Geisenkoetter Jr., an 8-year-old boy who was killed by an intoxicated snowmobiler on Chicago Lake this past winter. The child and his father, Alan Geisenkoetter Sr., were setting up a portable ice fishing shelter on the lake in January when a snowmobile struck them both, leaving Alan Jr. with fatal injuries.
The driver of the snowmobile, 45-year-old Eric Coleman had a BAC level of twice the legal limit for driving and was indicted on third-degree murder charges. Coleman had a history of DWI violations, including three driver’s license revocations.
According to the current state law, operators of snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles are treated in a different manner in comparison to motor vehicles with regard to drunk driving. For instance, if your driving privileges are revoked due to a DWI charge or conviction, you can still operate a snowmobile. Furthermore, there are more lenient penalties for a first-time DWI if it involves an ATV, snowmobile, or any other off-road vehicle.
Under the new proposal, if your driver’s license has been revoked due to DWI, you are not allowed to operate a snowmobile or ATV. The proposal will also apply to those who have their license suspended for not submitting a breath test. Lastly, the special treatment would also be eliminated.
In an unrelated case, lawmakers have voted to modify DWI law to include huffing the chemical found in keyboard cleaner. It is an effort to broaden the DWI law to include a number of new substances, such as household cleaners.