Drunk Driving Laws Apply To Boating And Recreational Vehicles

It is an unfortunate and dangerous truth that otherwise responsible people who are conscious of the amount of alcohol they consume if they plan to drive don't practice that same good judgment while enjoying time on a boat or other watercraft.

Minnesota law prohibits operating a boat or personal watercraft with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above .08 percent — the same limit the state has set for driving a motor vehicle. Law enforcement officials patrol Minnesota's lakes and other bodies of water, and are on the lookout for people who are boating while intoxicated (BWI).

You can also be arrested if you operate a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle with a BAC over .08 percent. Contact Bussa Law if you face any charges of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

A BWI Charge Should Not Be Taken Lightly

The penalties for BWI in Minnesota are similar to those for driving while intoxicated (DWI). A first-time conviction is a misdemeanor that is punishable by a fine up to $1,000, up to 90 days in jail and suspension of your right to operate a boat for 90 days. There are court costs and other fees on top of that.

It is important to note that a BWI is an enhanceable offense, meaning that aggravating factors could result in the charge becoming a more serious gross misdemeanor or even a felony. If a BWI charge is enhanced, you face stiffer penalties, including possible mandatory jail time and forfeiture of your boat. What type of factors could result in more serious charges?

  • If your BAC is .16 percent or above
  • If you have a prior DWI or BWI conviction on your record within the past 10 years (or if you refused to be tested for BAC)
  • If you have a passenger under age 16 at the time of your arrest
  • If you are arrested following a boating accident in which someone is injured.

Don't Underestimate The Seriousness Of Your Charge

A BWI charge can be a lot more serious than resolving your freedom to boat. It may be about your freedom, period. If you have been arrested for boating or operating a recreational vehicle while intoxicated, contact Bussa Law immediately. A prompt response is important to the outcome of your case.

We will review the facts of your case and determine the best legal strategy, whether that is negotiating a plea to a lesser charge, fighting the charge or petitioning to have the charge dismissed. Call or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation.