Nfld. & Labrador

A beer with a boilup? Not if you're driving a snowmobile

You can drive your car after having a beer. The same rules don't apply for people behind the wheel of a snowmobile.

RCMP remind public there is zero tolerance for drinking while driving a snowmobile

Cpl. John Butler says many people don't know there is a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to impairment while driving a snowmobile. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

The RCMP is trying to spread the word about a rule they say a lot of people don't know about — you are not allowed to have any alcohol whatsoever if you're driving a snowmobile. 

"They kind of consider the idea, 'Well, if I can drive my car, and have one drink, then I should be OK on a [snowmobile]. But … it's a zero tolerance policy," said Cpl. John Butler of the Bay St. George detachment.

"They shouldn't have even a sip."

Bay St. George RCMP have pledged to patrol trails during the winter, and officers will have alcohol-screening devices to check for people breaking the law. 

New legislation means police can ask drivers for a breath sample at any time when they lawfully pull them over — and that includes people driving snowmobiles. 

Drivers could be issued a summary offence ticket, a fine of up to $250 and have their machine impounded. Butler said people could lose their driver's licence and face a criminal charge for driving a snowmobile while impaired. 

Cabin-hopping? Don't drink and drive

He said police are trying to get the message out proactively, stopping people with unopened alcohol. 

"We tell them, 'Hey, when you get to that cabin, if you have a drink, you basically now have to stay at that cabin," Butler told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show. 

"Sometimes just based on their ignorance, they think it's OK to have one or two drinks when they're having a boilup or visiting someone's cabin, whatever the case might be. And they're just not aware that they are in fact breaking the law."

Enjoy the outdoors, but if you're driving a snowmobile, stay away from the booze altogether. (Submitted)

Butler said he gets the appeal of snowmobiling, getting outside, getting away and relieving a bit of stress. 

"All we want to do is ensure people make safe choices when they're out there," he said.

"We're not looking to cut back on anyone's fun, but at the same time, everything has to be safe for everybody."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Clarifications

  • In a second interview, a different RCMP officer clarified the 'zero tolerance' policy that is the subject of this article. Specifically, the officer said that while any consumption of alcohol is discouraged before operating a motorized vehicle, provincial legislation governing it is vague, stating only that operating a snowmobile while under the influence is punishable. The story that references the second RCMP interview can be read at cbc.ca/1.4995756.
    Jan 28, 2019 4:33 PM NT

With files from The St. John's Morning Show

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