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Ask a Trooper

Posted: Monday, January 14, 2002

The recent column about snowmachines on roads and in neighborhoods generated some feedback I'd like to address. This subject clearly riles many people, including "Sleepless in Kenai."

This person wrote "If the police can knock on someone's door and arrest that person for drunk driving without even seeing him drive, why won't they do the same for snowmobilers? I've called the police about people riding snowmachines in the city. They've followed the tracks right to their garage, but refuse to do anything because they say they have to see the person driving ... Until you start impounding machines I'll be cynical about the law."

Without knowing exactly where "Sleepless" lives, or to whom she has complained, I can't try to send help her way. In answer to the question, in order to arrest someone at home after the fact for driving while intoxicated, an officer still has to have strong probable cause that the person was the driver.

Because of the seriousness of the offense, drunk driving arrests are a high priority. The effort to prove that a person was driving a snowmachine on a road usually won't warrant the same level of investigative effort. This does not mean that snowmachiners on roads aren't dangerous or annoying.

Law enforcement is only one of the solutions to the problem of renegade snowmachiners. Snowmachine manufacturers, dealers, riding clubs and other groups can help with educating riders to be considerate and law abiding.

If you have questions you would like to ask a trooper, send them to Alaska State Troopers, P.O. Box 817, Seward, AK 99664 or e-mail them to brandon_anderson@dps.state.ak.us. The Alaska State Troopers remind you to always wear your seat belt.



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