In New Hampshire it is a crime to operate a car or boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Under these same laws, it is also a crime to operate an off-highway recreational vehicle (OHRV) or snow mobile while intoxicated. According to New Hampshire law RSA 259:69, an off highway recreational vehicle is defined as:
“any mechanically propelled vehicle used for pleasure or recreational purposes running on rubber tires, tracks, or cushion of air and dependent on the ground or surface for travel, or other unimproved terrain whether covered by ice or snow or not, where the driver sits in or on the vehicle.”
While these laws may seem trivial to some people, these types of offenses do occur. For example, The New Hampshire Union Leader reports that in March a Lebanon man named Kevin Bailey was arrested for aggravated DWI after driving a snowmobile under the influence. According to the article, Bailey was driving his snowmobile on the Northern Rail Trail in Enfield, NH when he encountered a woman walking her dog. In an effort to avoid hitting her, Bailey steered his vehicle to the left and lost control, hitting a tree.
It is believed that the dog may have been hit but the woman escaped with only minor abrasions. The driver fell off the vehicle before hitting the tree but was still taken to the hospital to be treated. When they responded to the scene, officials believed that Bailey was under the influence at the time of the accident and arrested him for suspicion of aggravated DWI.
Under RSA 265-A:3, a person can be charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated if they operate an OHRV while under the influence of any liquor or drug that “impairs a person's ability to drive” and any of the following:
- Drives at a speed of 30 mph or more over the speed limit
- Causes an accident resulting in seriously bodily injury
- Attempts to avoid arrest by eluding police officers
- Carries a passenger under the age of 16
- Has an alcohol concentration of 0.16 or more
In this example, it seems that the operator of the snowmobile is facing aggravated charges for causing the accident which resulted in harm to both himself and the victim. If convicted of this offense, Bailey could face paying a fine of $750, serving 5 days or more of incarceration and 8 months to 2 years of license suspension and installing an ignition interlock device upon license reinstatement. If he has any prior convictions on his record, all these penalties will be even greater.
It is important to understand the consequences of all types of DWI law. Some people may feel that because a vehicle, like a snowmobile, is not a car and is not driven on major roadway, laws do not apply. Examples like this one show that these types of arrests do happen and suspects can face serious criminal charges for drunk driving on a snowmobile. As in any DWI circumstance, however, there are always defense options available. The best way to make sure that you get a strong defense is to contact a New Hampshire DWI attorney as soon as you are arrested.