UNDATED (WSAU) – You can drink but you better not ride your snowmobile afterward.
So say state officials who spread a warning this week against drunken snowmobiling. The message comes at the start of what is often a deadly month for snowmobilers in Wisconsin.
The state has recorded five snowmobiling fatalities this winter. Seventeen snowmobilers died during the winter of 2010-2011. The Department of Natural Resources reported that 76 percent of the fatal accidents last winter involved alcohol, 65 percent were speed related.
“We don't want anyone to go through that tragic situation in their life where they're trying desperately in the middle of a snowmobile trail to bring their friend or loved one back to life,” said state snowmobile administrator Gary Eddy.
Eddy said operating a snowmobile is different than driving a car. He said you need total concentration to deal with bumpy trails and different weather conditions.
“The last thing you want to do is worsen your reaction time, worsen your concentration by introducing any level of alcohol into your system,” he said.
This weekend, a statewide snowmobile enforcement team will join local conservation wardens in Bayfield County to crack down on speeding, drunk and reckless snowmobilers. The enforcement team also spends part of its time educating riders about safe ways to ride. A team conducted a similar enforcement last weekend in Eagle River.