DWI offenders in Minnesota will face tougher penalties beginning Wednesday, Aug. 1.
Currently, Minnesota law allows DWI offenders to continue driving motorboats, ATVs and snowmobiles while their driver's license is suspended. The new law will close that loophole.
State legislatures designed the bill that Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law after a drunk snowmobiler hit an 8-year-old boy on Chisago Lake in January. The boy, Alan Geisenkoetter Jr., died five days after being struck.
“This new law should send the message that drinking and driving – no matter what the vehicle – isn’t acceptable and the consequences are severe," said Col. Rodmen Smith, the director of the Minnesota DNR Enforcement Division.
The operator of that snowmobile that killed the boy had not only been drinking at the time, he had three previous DWI convictions and his driver's license had been revoked on three occasions.
Eric J. Coleman, 45, is now facing murder charges relating to Geisenkotter's death.
The DNR provided this example of how the new law, dubbed "Little Alan's Law," will work.
"As an example, a person convicted of DWI in a motorboat, or who refuses testing for a motorboat DWI, would have their driver’s license suspended and be prohibited from operating ATVs, motorboats and snowmobiles for one year. Additionally, first-time DWI offenders operating off-road recreational vehicles or motorboats also will be subject to chemical use assessments, conditional release and plate impoundment – the same as a DWI in a highway-licensed vehicle."
In addition to prohibiting the use all motor vehicles, first-time DWI offenders operating off-road recreational vehicles or motorboats will be subject to chemical use assessments and plate impoundment.