New Minnesota DWI law strips boat, snowmobile, ATV privileges

People convicted of driving while intoxicated in Minnesota will lose their driver’s license and be stripped of their privilege to operate boats, snowmobiles and ATVs under “Little Alan’s Law” which takes effect Aug. 1, 2018.

The Minnesota Legislature passed the law to close a DWI loophole following the death of 8-year-old Alan Geisenkoetter Jr., who was struck by a snowmobile on Lake Chisago that was driven by a man whose license had been revoked after multiple DWIs.

Before the change in Minnesota’s DWI law, people convicted of DWI in a car could legally operate boats, ATVs and snowmobiles. The changes apply to violations that occur on or after Aug. 1. The Minnesota DNR says the change sends the message that drinking and driving – no matter what the vehicle – is unacceptable and carries severe consequences.

DNR Enforcement Division Director Col. Rodmen Smith said the laws will help keep roads, trails and waterways safer.

"People that operate RVs can kill people just as easily as they can in a minivan or a pickup or any other traditional motor vehicle," Smith said.

Mary Beth Lonnee, Alan's grandmother, lived through a nighmare last winter.

"How many people do abusive alcoholics get to kill? How many people do they get to injure?" she asked.

Lonnee described Alan as a loving boy who loved to cuddle.

"My heart aches. I am empty. I cannot imagine the tragic pain my daughter and son-in-law feel on a daily basis," she said. "This bill could've prevented little Alan's death and I know it will save other lives."

Eric Coleman, the suspect in Alan Geisenkoetter’s death, is scheduled to go to trial in December on charges of third-degree murder and criminal vehicular homicide.