Don’t drink and ride

Posted on: January 20, 2024


DNR Partners With MADD To Promote
Snowmobile Safety This Winter


A group of riders snowmobile through the falling snow.

Stay safe this snowmobile season. Don’t drink and ride. / Photo Credit: iStock/c3nsored

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) are teaming up to promote a safe snowmobile season and educate Wisconsinites on the dangers of operating a snowmobile while impaired by alcohol and/or other drugs.

More than 200,000 registered snowmobiles hit Wisconsin’s 25,000 miles of groomed trails each winter, making safety an essential part of the ride. In the early months of 2023, there were 16 fatal snowmobile crashes, with 10 involving alcohol.

“Snowmobile-impaired crashes affect families the same way as road vehicle impaired crashes,” said Erin Payton, MADD Regional Executive Director“Unfortunately, snowmobile drivers do not always have the same mindset in operating their sleds sober.”

“It’s important to remember that operating any type of vehicle while under the influence can cause traumatic injuries and tragic loss of life,” said Lt. Jacob Holsclaw, DNR Off-Highway Vehicle Administrator. “In addition, we are seeing the highest age demographic in fatal crashes being over the age of 40. We recommend snowmobile riders of all ages to take a snowmobile safety course, don’t outride their abilities, and perhaps most importantly, don’t drink and ride.”

The DNR and MADD want to share these safety tips to make snowmobiling a great experience with all recreation explorers:

  • Don’t drive impaired: Alcohol and drugs impair a driver’s vision, balance, coordination and reaction time. Don’t ride with people who drink and ride!
  • Take a snowmobile safety training course: Classes on basic snowmobile operation, laws, regulations and safety can help save lives and reduce injuries.
  • Stay on the trail or stay home: Stay on the trail unless otherwise designated. Know the laws and regulations governing snowmobiling where you ride and where you travel to ride.
  • Watch the weather and check trail and ice conditions before riding: Don’t ride in unsafe weather conditions. Plan your trip and check the trails you’ll be riding before departure.
  • Never ride alone: Always ride with another snowmobile. If one machine is disabled, you have another to get help.
  • Dress for safety and survival: Always wear a DOT-approved helmet and facemask. Wear layers of clothing to keep warm and dry. Snowmobile suits, bibs, jackets, gloves and mittens should cut the wind, repel water and keep you ventilated.
  • Slow down: Excessive speed is a factor in many accidents, especially at night. To help avoid accidents, keep your nighttime speed under 40 MPH.
  • Stay to the right: Almost every trail is a two-way trail. Stay to the far right of the trail, especially on hills and corners. Obey all trail signs and cross roadways with extreme caution.
  • Be extra careful when riding on ice-covered lakes and rivers: Avoid riding on lakes and rivers when possible, and wear a life jacket over your outer clothing if you must ride on ice. Stay off ice with moving water near or under it – no ice is 100% safe, but ice in these areas may be thin and weak.

Visit the DNR’s Snowmobiling in Wisconsin webpage for additional information on snowmobile safety classesregulationssafety tips and how to register your snowmobile.

DNR Violation Hotline

Anyone with information regarding natural resource violations, including unsafe snowmobile operation, may confidentially report by calling or texting the Violation Hotline at 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Trained staff relay the information to conservation wardens. Reports can also be filed online.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 400,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.