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New Michigan Law Reduces Legal BAC Limit for Snowmobilers and Recreational Drivers

Thanks to a new law signed by Governor Rick Snyder, boaters and snowmobilersThumbnail image for Ski-Mobile-Rider-3101130.jpg will be subject to stricter drunk driving violations. Changes in legislation were made to create a more level playing field for all vehicle operators. 

Since 2003, the legal blood alcohol limit for road drivers in Michigan has been 0.08%. For other drivers, such as boaters, snowmobile operators, and recreational vehicle drivers, the limit was previously 0.10%. With the new law, all drivers in the state will be held to the same drunk driving standard. Governor Snyder says the change was just "common sense," and that a uniform blood alcohol limit is needed to keep people in waterways and other recreational areas safe.

The bipartisan change was proposed in 2003 and approved by the Michigan House. But it was shot down by the state Senate because people questioned whether the change was really necessary, even on the roadways. Skeptics thought the only motivation for the change to 0.08 was to keep federal roadway funding. But everything changed in 2005 when a young boy was killed by a boat operator with a high BAC. The driver was above the legal road limit for alcohol when he ran over Ryan Zielinski in his boat. Seven-year-old Zielinski was tube riding in Donnell Lake when he was killed by the personal watercraft operator. Prosecutors were outraged because they could not reach the maximum sentencing possible. The defendant was intoxicated at the time of the accident, but his BAC tested below 0.10%.

Soon after the deadly accident, Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz began working with lawmakers to create the new law. Rep. Matt Lori of Constantine says the law will give prosecutors "all the tools possible" to prevent more tragedies. Lori worked alongside fellow Republican Rep. Dave Pagel and Democratic Rep. Andrew Kandrevas to make sure the law was passed. According to Pagel, snowmobilers should be able to relax and enjoy their hobbies while still being "held to the same standards as drivers of automobiles." The congressmen hope the law will improve the safety of Michigan lakes as well as snowmobile routes and off-road trails.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for drunk driving in the Ann Arbor area, I invite you to contact me for a consultation. I can be reached directly at 734-274-6567 or via email.

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