A measure to ban people convicted of driving drunk in a motor vehicle from operating a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle advanced at the Legislature on Monday.
The measure comes after 8-year-old Alan Geisenkoetter Jr. of Wyoming was killed by a man driving a snowmobile while his license was revoked late last year for drunk driving.
Rep. Anne Neu, R-North Branch, said she authored the bill to close a loophole in state law that permits drivers with a DWI in a car to operate snowmobiles and ATVs. The bill cleared the House Transportation and Regional Governance Policy committee Monday.
Geisenkoetter Jr. was setting up a fish house on Chisago Lake with his family when he was struck by a snowmobile operated by 45-year-old Eric Joseph Coleman of Chisago City. The boy died a few days after the accident.
Coleman’s blood alcohol level was allegedly .165 three hours after the January accident, more than twice the legal limit. He was charged with third-degree murder, criminal vehicular homicide, criminal vehicular operation and drunk driving. The murder charge alone could result in 12 1/2 years in prison.
Coleman had an ignition-locking system in his motor vehicle that was intended to prevent him from driving. His license had been revoked two times before the drunk-driving offense last year.
Under current law, a person convicted of driving a snowmobile or ATV while under the influence is banned from operating those kinds of recreational vehicles for a year. The bill expands the prohibition so that it applies to a person who commits a DWI in any vehicle.
Neu said the bill is supported by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as well as the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association.