It won't be illegal to hunt drunk in Michigan until 02/01/02

spectr17

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October 24, 2001.

Criminal code change will make it illegal to hunt while drunk. The hunting while intoxicated law will not be going into effect until Feb. 1, 2002.

By DAN SANDERSON,Record-Eagle staff writer

     GAYLORD - A change in the state's criminal code making it illegal to be drunk while hunting was signed into law Tuesday but will not go into effect in time for the upcoming firearms deer season.

     The bill, sponsored by Sen. William Van Regenmorter, R-Georgetown Twp., makes it a five-year felony to seriously injure someone while hunting intoxicated and a 15-year felony for shooting and killing someone while hunting intoxicated.

     The bill also calls for a misdemeanor charge that carries a 90-day jail sentence and a $100 fine for anyone hunting who has a blood alcohol level of .07.

     Drivers with a blood alcohol level of .08 and above are considered impaired; those with a level of .10 and above are considered drunk.

     The daughters of Lee Edmiston, 66, of Otsego County, who was shot and killed the third day of the firearms deer season last year by longtime friend Leonard Anthony Weitzel, pushed for the change in the law.

     Weitzel was ordered to pay $989 in fines and court costs and was sentenced to 30 days in jail earlier this year for hunting while intoxicated, which was then a misdemeanor charge.

     Sandi Edmiston, who started lobbying for the change in the law shortly after her father's death, said her efforts have garnered support from several hunters and organizations, including Ted Nugent, the Michigan United Conservation Clubs and the National Rifle Association.

     "This is going to be more appropriate and at least prosecutors will have the full arm of law when it comes to the protection of our outdoor heritage," she said. "This means dad did not die in vain. He would be very proud that his fellow hunters are standing up for him."

     The hunting while intoxicated law, signed by Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus, will not be going into effect until Feb. 1, 2002.

     Otsego County Prosecutor Kevin Hesselink Tuesday said he was pleased the Legislature quickly took care of the loophole in the law and believes it will serve as a legacy for the Edmiston family.

     "In reality this man (Weitzel) was punished by losing a lifelong friend and there wasn't much more the criminal justice system could do, but in other situations it's going to be someone who shoots and kills someone that they don't know because they are intoxicated," Hesselink said.

     Dennis LaBelle, the Grand Traverse County prosecutor, said the change in law makes it specific for prosecutors when it comes to similar instances.

     Before, LaBelle said, the most stringent law that prosecutors could use was manslaughter, which is a 15-year felony. Prosecutors have to prove gross negligence occurred in those cases.

     LaBelle said he hopes hunters will become educated on the law before heading into the woods.

     "They should know that they're not going to be able to sit there and drink while they're waiting for deer to come by," he said.
 



Thonzberry

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The fine should be steeper then a $100. First of all drinking and guns ( Hunting or Plinking around) don't mix. If you drink, do it when your gun is put away out of reach. I had a neighbor who's friend was shot in the back of the head in a duck blind. He stood up to take a shot and his friend did the same, his friend was takeing a drink at that moment and wasn't paying attention, so when he stood up the buzz set in and BAM!!!. the amazeing thing is that his friend lived. He passed away a few years ago at the age of 96, so the shot didn't kill him just good old age, anyways good luck to all
 


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