Mich. boaters, snowmobilers face tougher alcohol limits

David Eggert
Associated Press

Lansing — Michigan boaters, snowmobilers and off-road vehicle users will be subject to a 0.08 percent blood alcohol limit — the same as drivers — under laws Gov. Rick Snyder signed this week.

The measures were among 44 pieces of wide-ranging legislation that received the governor’s signature.

Snyder said it’s “common sense” to have a uniform blood alcohol limit for all vehicle drivers. When Michigan changed the legal limit for driving from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent in 2003, it didn’t do so in snowmobile, watercraft and off-road vehicle laws.

“It is vital to keep our waterways and other recreational areas safe for all Michiganders,” Snyder said in a statement Tuesday.

The House in 2003 and 2005 voted overwhelmingly to make the limit 0.08 for all vehicle users, but the legislation died in the Senate, apparently in part because critics felt the only reason the blood alcohol limit for drunken driving had been lowered was because the state faced the loss of federal funding.

Rep. Matt Lori, a Constantine Republican who sponsored two of the four bills, said he was “elated” the package got to Snyder’s desk.

Victor Fitz, president of the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Association and Cass County’s prosecutor, began working with lawmakers on the legislation nearly a decade ago after 7-year-old Ryan Zielinski was killed when a jet skier ran over his tube on Donnell Lake. Authorities were unable to prosecute the jet skier as severely as they would have had he been driving a car, Fitz said.

Some new laws

■ Prevent collective bargaining for university athletes by saying they aren’t public employees. Michigan is the second state to do so.

■Continue a 7/8-cent environmental protection fee paid on each gallon of fuel sold and designate $20 million a year to the original purpose of the fee — cleaning up contamination from leaking underground fuel tanks.

■ Prohibit the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality from writing air emission rules for wood stoves or enforcing federal health regulations sought by the Obama administration for newly built wood-burning heaters.

■ Allow the state Department of Natural Resources to issue shooting permits with guidelines in areas where bears are damaging crops.

■Let municipal utilities create programs so residential customers can pay installments on their monthly bills to finance improvements that make their homes more energy efficient.

■ Let the state permanently revoke licenses for health workers as a disciplinary action.

■ Remove a requirement that people gathering signatures for political petitions be a registered Michigan voter.

■Remove licensing requirements for people in the mortgage industry whose primary responsibility is helping delinquent home loan borrowers renegotiate loans, aligning state law with federal rules.

■ Require the state to pay a 3 percent bonus interest on Michigan Business Tax refunds not paid within a specified amount of time.

■Allow wild game meat from more than one hunter to be used in sausage making.

■ Designate roads previously known as “Michigan Heritage Routes” as “Pure Michigan Byways.”