Are Wisconsin laws dealing with intoxicated operation of boats, ATVs and snowmobiles too complicated? That’s what lawmakers are hearing at the Capitol. “Right now . . . it’s confusing, I could not believe it,” said Randy Hardin of Sheboygan, chair of the Governor’s State Trails Council. “It was almost what phase the moon was in, to figure out what ticket to write. That’s how complex it seems.” Hardin served on a task force which was charged with bringing some consistency to the current regulations.
Legislation now being proposed would make 2nd offense for OWI on any recreational vehicle – boat, ATV or snowmobile – within 5 years a criminal offense. Currently, an operator has to get arrested for OWI twice on the specific type of vehicle within 5 years for it to be a 2nd offense and criminal.
The bill (AB 841) also revokes recreational vehicle privileges for convicted drunk drivers. “Currently, you’re found guilty, your operating privileges to drive a car are revoked or suspended, but on the weekend you can . . . have full use of that recreational,” said the bill’s author, Representative Louis Molepske. “I think that weekend hiatus has to stop.”
Gary Eddy, ATV-snowmobile administrator for the DNR, said a minority of hard core drinkers are making the trails dangerous for everyone. “Last year, seventy percent of our snowmobile fatalities in the state were alcohol involved,” Eddy told the Assembly Committee on Public Safety. “Of the victims that were operating that had been consuming alcohol, the average blood alcohol concentration was .201.” Eddy compares Wisconsin’s complicated laws with those in Minnesota, where the laws were toughened after drunk snowmobilers were responsible for the deaths of small children. Since then, Eddy said, Wisconsin has averaged 26 snowmobile deaths annually, Minnesota just 16.
Bob Hague reports (1:20 MP3) AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (1:20 MP3)