Out of tragedy comes Little Alan’s Law

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On the evening of January 26, 2018, at around 8:00pm, the Geisenkoetter family were setting up a canvas ice house on a Minnesota lake. The ice house was being set up next to their extended cab pickup, which had reflectors, and both Alan Geisenkoetter Sr, and his wife both had headlamps on.

While they were setting up, the family heard a snowmobile approaching – not uncommon during Minnesota winters.

Alan Geisenkoetter Jr took a few steps away from his mother to get a better look at the approaching snowmobile. Alan Sr, who was inside the fish house as the snowmobile approached, suddenly found himself 50 feet away: The snowmobile had slammed into the fish house, clipped their pickup truck, and struck Alan Jr.

Alan Jr was airlifted from the lake to Children’s Hospital, where he passed away 5 days later.

A winter tragedy

The man who was driving the snowmobile, Eric J. Coleman, admitted to investigators that he had been drinking. He was no stranger to driving while drunk, having already been convicted of the offense three times previously. His license had been revoked, and he had purchased the snowmobile two weeks prior to the accident

(Read more: StarTribune)

But, as a result of the tragedy comes a push for positive change to prevent something similar from happening again. This change went into effect August 1, and is known as Little Alan’s Law.

According to the new law, those convicted of driving while intoxicated will be unable to operate any motor vehicle – regardless of the vehicle they were driving when stopped. They will also lose their driver’s license, and will be prohibited from operating motor vehicles, including all-terrain vehicles, motorboats and snowmobiles. Previously someone convicted of driving while intoxicated in a highway vehicle could still drive a boat, ATV, or snowmobile.

An example of how the new law works is as follows: A person convicted of DWI in a motorboat, or who refuses testing for a motorboat DWI, would have their driver’s license suspended and be prohibited from operating ATVs, motorboats and snowmobiles for one year. Another part of this law is first-time DWI offenders operating off-road recreational vehicles or motorboats also will be subject to chemical use assessments, conditional release and plate impoundment – the same as a DWI in a highway-licensed vehicle.

Director of the Minnesota DNR Enforcement Division, Col. Rodmen Smith had this to say about Little Alan’s Law, “We have zero tolerance for people who endanger themselves and other people by operating a motor vehicle or recreational vehicle while they’re intoxicated. This new law should send the message that drinking and driving – no matter what the vehicle – isn’t acceptable and the consequences are severe.”

This law has wide bi-partisan support. The Minnesota DNR and other law enforcement agencies in the state, along with ATV and snowmobile groups, supported the law change as well.

Unless otherwise noted all information was found here: DNR press release

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