Wait, that’s illegal?

Bad boys, bad boys what you gonna do when they come for you on that snowmobile?

More stories from Julia Van Allen

Seeking Solace
May 13, 2019

In the great state of North Dakota, where plains easily morph into hilly landscapes, owning a snowmobile is almost a necessity for navigating the terrain when the snow makes driving a car impossible. North Dakota has thirteen snowmobile trails that span over 2,800 miles. There are websites  that detail the conditions of said trails on a weekly basis so potential motorists know what kind of conditions they’ll be going through.

What one needs to keep in mind for these prime snowmobiling conditions is the law of the land. You need to follow proper safety precautions, otherwise the local police won’t be happy campers.

Whether it’s speeding, operating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, operating without a proper driver’s license, or driving on someone else’s private property without consent, the potential for snowmobile hijinks is only as limited as your imagination.

Not that I encourage breaking the law–listen to the police and be familiar with the law, kids. I’m just saying that there’s some real potential for snowmobile buffoonery. That’s all.

There’s an entire section of the North Dakota Century Code that is concerned with the operation and operators of snowmobiles, that should say something about how prevalent this vehicle choice is out there.

But, if one does break the law while riding a snowmobile and there’s either a police or peace officer in pursuit, it’s illegal to evade them while on a snowmobile.

According to the North Dakota Century Code: “39-24.1-13. Fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer. 1. Any driver of a snowmobile who willfully fails or refuses to bring the snowmobile to a stop, or who otherwise flees or attempts to elude, in any manner, a pursuing police vehicle or peace officer, when given a visual or audible signal to bring the snowmobile to a stop, is guilty of a class B misdemeanor for a first or second offense and a class A misdemeanor for a subsequent offense.”

If you get your kicks by whipping some sick doughnuts in a snowmobile, you’d better be prepared to stop when the nice officer tells you to. It’ll be easier for you and for the men and women who are trying to uphold the law of the land. It’s as simple as that.

Now, I always imagined that it was illegal in any case, by any means, to evade a police officer when they’re coming at you with lights flashing and badges at-the-ready, but the fact that North Dakota had to codify a law about evading the police on a snowmobile takes it to a whole other level.

The fine for committing this offense and being caught is a hefty $500, so if you’re going to do this (and I don’t recommend that you do!), you’d better be ready to pay for your crimes. Literally.

Another struggle that the North Dakota government is having with snowmobiles is their effect on wildlife populations. Poor little critters are getting run over by unsuspecting motorists or scared from the loud sounds.

This law isn’t exactly like the other ones I’ve detailed so far in this deep dive — it makes a lot of sense to me — but I thought it needed to be explicitly laid out so anyone who decides to hop on a snowmobile knows what they might be getting themselves in to.

Plus, the image of someone whipping around on a snowmobile, sending snow flying with a police snowmobile in hot pursuit, miniature siren wailing and lights flashing, is a fun one to have.

Van Allen can be reached at [email protected].