Child's Death Prompts Bill to Restrict Snowmobile, ATV Use for Those Convicted of DWI

March 19, 2018 10:26 PM

The sudden death of a Minnesota boy on a frozen lake is inspiring action at the State Capitol.  

Eight-year-old Alan Geisenkoetter Jr. was killed in January when a snowmobiler slammed into him and his dad on Chisago Lake as the boy and his dad were putting up their fish house.

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Now, with support from the Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota United Snowmobile Association, lawmakers are trying to use this tragedy to make change by adding restrictions on the use of snowmobiles and ATVs for those convicted of DWI.

RELATED: Man Indicted in Fatal Snowmobile Crash Had Pending DWI Case, Records Show

Eric Coleman, 45, faces a third-degree murder charge as well as charges for criminal vehicular homicide and DWI in connection to the fatal snowmobile crash.

Coleman admitted to law enforcement he had been drinking, and court documents show he was already facing a previous DWI charge at the time of the crash.

His license had been previously been revoked three times, and he had a device on his car to prevent him from drinking and driving.

Right now, if a driver is convicted of a DWI in a car or truck, that person's driving privileges are restricted – but only on the road. Those penalties don't currently apply to using a snowmobile or an ATV.

State lawmakers are exploring the possibility of revoking driving privileges on snowmobiles and ATVs for one year after a driver is convicted of a DWI in any vehicle.

The day after Alan Jr. passed away in the hospital, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke with his parents, asking what questions were running through their minds.

"How was he able to get that snowmobile?" asked Alan's mother, Ellie Geisenkoetter. "Why was he on it? Who was with him? Who provided him with that, knowing his past?"

They're questions state leaders, the DNR and even the Minnesota United Snowmobile Association all want to be able to answer moving forward.

RELATED: Memorial Benefit Honors 8-Year-Old Killed in Chisago Lake Snowmobile Crash

So far, all are in support of the bill, House File 3923, that would link DWI restrictions across all types of vehicles.

"This shouldn't happen," said Rep. Anne Neu, who authored the bill. "This just shouldn't happen. This man should have never been on a snowmobile to begin with."

Ultimately, Neu says she wants to see something that keeps the snowmobile or ATV from operating if the driver has been convicted of a DWI.

The DNR also wants to see boats included in this bill as it moves forward.

The bill is scheduled to go before three more committees in the coming days.



 

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Katherine Johnson

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