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How locations play a critical role in snowmobile DUI charges

On Behalf of | Dec 23, 2018 | Firm News

Something that a lot of people do not realize is that the police are on the lookout for any vehicle with a driver that could be under the influence. Winter is an especially dangerous time not just because of the holidays in the earlier months in the season, but because drunk motorists would have an especially tough time navigating excessive snow and ice covering the streets.

As the snow starts coming down harder in Pennsylvania, snowmobile owners can finally dust off their rides to enjoy the trails. However, not being restricted solely to the roads doesn’t mean you have more freedom than car drivers. You can still receive DUI charges if an officer catches you operating your snowmobile while intoxicated. Unlike car drivers or motorcyclists, many snowmobilers do not know where officers would be located during their trip. If you plan on taking your snowmobile out for a couple of hours one day, knowing where these places could be could help you proceed with caution around these areas.

Typical DUI checkpoint areas

Back in 2009, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette put out an article to give readers an idea of how police choose DUI checkpoint locations for snowmobilers. The state forest lands and state parks are some of the most popular locations for riders to explore through due to the lush environments and distance from the main roads. However, they also have designated marked trails for snowmobilers to stay on during their ride. The Forest Service has several checkpoints along these trails and also constantly monitor these areas, so they might investigate when they see snowmobile tracks leading off the marked path.

The article also mentions a popular loop where DUIs happen because it circles through counties that feature a number of bars and restaurants. Both residents and law enforcement cite various incidents of speeding and reckless behavior around these hot spots from experienced snowmobilers that come out of town to visit Pennsylvania’s state parks in the winter. While these locations may not be near the cities, they do demonstrate similar tactics you would see from an officer on the streets. Many officers park near areas with bars due to the higher chance of catching someone with a DUI.

State roads

Snowmobilers need to be especially careful when they are operating on roads because many of them are illegal to drive on. There are marks on streets that they can use for regular usage or events. They also need to take several precautions when attempting to cross a two-lane highway or public street such as being at a place where there is no obstruction to the vehicles and stopping to yield the right-of-way first.

This adds an additional layer of problems to those intoxicated. Aside from being unable to drive properly, they would get spotted by either the Pennsylvania Forest Service or the police (since this is now in a more public area) and get charged with several violations if they did not see any proper markings for roads or crossings.

Since snowmobilers are only able to go out for a limited time, they can easily forget or overlook laws that could land them in serious trouble for disobeying them. Even if it is for a recreational activity that happens only a couple of months in a year, charges they could receive for a DUI can still be devastating to their future plans. If you or a loved one face potential violations for something you did on your snowmobile, you should see what legal assistance you have available for criminal defense.

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