By James Lewis
Winter in Wisconsin is in full-swing now, and more than 25,000 miles of snowmobile trails are open. The 2016-17 snowmobile season will see more than 200,000 riders throughout the state. Before taking to the trails, it is important that you know about how Wisconsin OWI laws affect snowmobile operators.
First, if you are driving your snowmobile on a public trail, road or highway, then Wisconsin OWI laws, the legal limit (.08 BAC) and penalties will likely apply to you if you drink alcohol and drive your snowmobile. If you are on private property, then the rules on having to submit to a chemical test may differ, unless another criminal offense or accident has occurred. Going off-trail, onto lakes, etc., can vary the penalties that apply. Fines for a snowmobile OWI can range between $400 and $2000, depending on how many similar infractions you have on your record and the nature of the incident. In addition to fines, drivers found to be operating under the influence of alcohol may also have their privilege to operate a snowmobile revoked by a court upon conviction. However, unlike automobile OWI law, which counts the lifetime number of prior OWI violations, the snowmobile OWI laws only count violations within the previous five years.