Snowmobiling while Intoxicated (SWI)
Any person who is operating a snowmobile while under the influence can be charged with a snowmobiling while intoxicated charge (SWI), which is the equivalent to a DWI. The criminal penalties will be nearly identical to a DWI charge, but the civil penalties will vary.
Criminal Charges –
The level of charge will depend on whether the driver has any prior DWIs or if there are other aggravating factors – such as a high alcohol reading (more than .16).
Misdemeanor offenses – The person has no priors and an alcohol concentration reading below .16. The person faces a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. A typical conviction wouldn’t result in much jail time, but instead the person would do jail alternative like community work service. A chemical dependency assessment is often required as well.
Gross Misdemeanor offenses – This occurs for first-time offenders when there is an aggravating factor present, like an alcohol reading above .16. Persons with a prior within the past 10 years will also face a gross misdemeanor charge. The maximum penalty is a year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine. Mandatory penalties will kick for offenders with at least one prior DWI in the past 10 years.
Felony offenses – If this is the person’s fourth offense or more within a ten year period or if they have a prior felony DWI offense in their lifetime, they could face felony charges. As before, mandatory penalties will dictate the typical outcome – though, departures from these prescribed penalties are feasible and can lead to much more reasonable sentences.
Collateral Consequences –
Unlike a DWI conviction, a SWI conviction for a first-time offender will not automatically result in a loss of the person’s driving privileges. But, the person will be prohibited from operating a snowmobile for the next year, failure to adhere to the same can lead to separate criminal charges. Other collateral consequences will track those of a DWI for repeat offenders.
As with any DWI-type offense, it is critical to get an attorney to review all available defenses. Critical to a SWI is the basis for the stop, which can be harder to justify for the State officials. That is why you need a SWI attorney to fight for you and counsel you through this process.