WEAU | Eau Claire, Wisconsin | News, Weather, & Sports

ATVs and Alcohol Can Be Dangerous Situation

By: Kelly Schlicht Email
By: Kelly Schlicht Email

It's the time of year to hit the trails on all terrain vehicles, especially on this Labor Day weekend.

But if ATVs are combined with alcohol, it can become one very dangerous situation.

"We do know there is a spike in ATV activity, over these holiday weekends, so it might also follow that there are more accidents, alcohol or non-alcohol involved, just because there are more ATVs on the trail," says Conservation Warden Supervisor William Schwengel.

On Saturday, two people crashed their ATVs in Eastern Eau Claire County, and sheriffs deputies say alcohol was involved. Though there were only minor injuries, Department of Natural Resources wardens say it serves as a reminder.

"A sober operator is the safest operator out there of course, and we do know that alcohol does lead to accidents," says Schwengel.

24 ATV drivers died total last year in Wisconsin.

"About 25 percent they felt were alcohol related or caused, and about 38 percent there had been alcohol consumed," quotes Recreational Safety Warden William Yearman.

The DNR safety wardens have gone on the offensive.

"One of the things we're doing on days like today is getting out on the trail and patrolling, looking for violations," says Schwengel.

And even though ATV drivers aren't on the highway, sheriff's deputies, police officers or DNR wardens can still pull you over. The fines are the same as an OWI in a car, but at this time in Wisconsin, no points are taken off of the driver's license, which is under debate right now.

"Some states have the points go against your driving record and your license also," says Yearman.

Overall the safety wardens and experienced ATV riders have the same advice for staying safe.

"Don't drive at a speed you can't handle, and just pretend you're driving a car," says Tim Riola, an ATV enthusiast from Milwaukee.

Wardens say ATV riders who were born before 1988 don't need to take a safety course, but say knowing the rules of the trail is the best way to prevent accidents.


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