Fact or Fiction: Snowmobiles and Colorado’s DUI/DWAI Laws

11When you read the abbreviation “DUI,” you picture a car, right? Well, did you know that Colorado’s DUI and DWAI laws cover snowmobiles as well? Just as the state does not want you driving a car or truck while your mental faculties are impaired from the effects of alcohol, the same pertains to the use of snowmobiles. The average snowmobile weighs over 400 pounds and, if high-powered, can reach speeds of 150 mile per hour. If a 200-pound football player can deliver a crushing blow at 20 miles per hour, then a machine made of aluminum and Kevlar, weighing twice that amount and driver 7.5 times faster can do far worse. Make no mistake, snowmobile accidents can and do cause fatalities. Because drinking (or smoking) and snowmobiling increases the risk of accident, the state of Colorado criminalizes snowmobiling under the influence. The charge is the same – DUI/DWAI. If you have been charged with a snowmobile DUI, you need a skilled and experienced Colorado DUI defense attorney.

Colorado’s DUI/DWAI Laws Apply to Motor Vehicles

The reason you can be charged with a DUI or DWAI for drinking and snowmobiling is that Colorado’s drinking and driving statute, C.R.S. 42-1-102(122) defines the term “motor vehicle” broadly. In addition, Colorado has a Ski Safety Act, dating back to 1979. The act makes it illegal to ride a lift of use any ski slope or trail when your ability is impaired by the consumption of alcohol or any drug (e.g. marijuana). If you are stopped while snowmobiling under suspicion of DUI, criteria for arrest and prosecution are the same. First, the officer making the initial stop must possess probable cause – a reasonable suspicion that you have been drinking and snowmobiling. A reasonable suspicion might include erratic speed or direction, or the visible presence of an open container of alcohol. After making the stop, the officer will ask you to take a breathalyzer test to measure your Blood Alcohol Content (or your Blood THC Content if you are suspected of smoking and snowmobiling). The legal limit of alcohol is .08% for DUI and .05% for DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired).  For marijuana, the legal limit is .05 milliliter per nanogram of active THC, and is tested with a saliva or blood swab rather than a breathalyzer. If you produce a test above the legal limit for either substance after being stopped with probable cause, the officer may properly arrest you.

What to Do if You Have Been Charged With DUI in the State of Colorado

If you have been charged with DUI or DWAI in the state of Colorado, you need a skilled and experienced Denver DUI defense attorney. Fines, fees driver’s license suspension, community service, and even jail time (especially if an accident or injuries were involved) are all at stake. Because of these serious consequences, you need to mount the strongest possible legal defense against the state of Colorado’s efforts to convict you.

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