You may not have heard of it, but operating a snowmobile under the influence of alcohol or drugs (SWI), is a criminal charge in Minnesota. And just like DUI, it is a serious matter.
Too often, people assume that they can only be charged with a DUI crime if they are driving on a road. But that is not true. Operating any motor vehicle while under the influence is illegal, whether you are on a highway, a lake or a snowmobile trail.
The penalties for SWI can be harsh and they can affect your driver’s license. Just like a DUI conviction, an SWI conviction will be part of your driving and criminal records. Refusing an alcohol or drug test at the police station for SWI can cause you to lose your driver’s license for a year.
In addition, repeat violations are counted the same way as DUI convictions. For example, if you already have a conviction for one SWI on your record, a second SWI or first DUI conviction will be counted as your second conviction, and you will likely face stiffer penalties for the subsequent charge. SWI and DUI are not treated as separate crimes.
The penalties for a first SWI conviction may include up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. You may also lose your right to operate a snowmobile for up to a year.
If you are facing SWI charges, you should know that you have the right to speak with a lawyer. Pleading guilty is the equivalent of having a conviction on your record. And you will face consequences for that conviction or guilty plea for many years. Speak with an attorney as soon as possible to learn how to protect your rights.