MADISON, Wis. (WTAQ) - It won’t happen this year. But at least one group wants second-time drunk driving for boats, ATV’s, and snowmobiles to be counted against people’s car licenses. Patrick Schmutzer founded the group Safe and Sober, Wisconsin Snowmobilers United. He said off-road deaths would drop if OWI’s for other vehicles were to put offenders’ driver licenses in jeopardy. Schmutzer says it works in Minnesota and Michigan – and it’s time to address the problem in Wisconsin.
He says a bill in the Legislature would address the problem, and it also requires treatment. But there’s no indication it could pass before the current session ends for the year on Thursday. Snowmobile deaths in Wisconsin have gone down 3 straight years for the first time – and Schmutzer gives credit to the 55 mile an hour night time speed limit that’s been in effect since 2006. The Assembly voted last week to make the speed limit permanent, and the bill is pending in the Senate.
21 people died in Wisconsin snowmobile crashes this past winter, tied for the second-lowest in the last 15 years. Alcohol was a factor in last half those deaths. The DNR said 2 people have died in ATV crashes this year, and high speed and alcohol were factors in both. 16 boaters died last year. Two victims had blood alcohol levels of 0.27 or higher -- and the rest had either no or unknown levels of alcohol in their systems.