When you live in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, chances are that you’ll probably enjoy some fun outings on a motorboat. It’s estimated that there are over 800,000 boats of all types registered in Minnesota, and of those, approximately sixty-eight percent are motorboats. Because of the accident risks associated with operating motorboats, Minnesota’s statutes regulate the safe and responsible operation of these boats if operators or passengers are consuming alcohol while cruising the waters.
Boating while intoxicated, or BWI, is considered a “driving while impaired crime” under Minnesota statutes, and violators can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a gross misdemeanor. While it’s legal to consume alcohol on a boat, it’s illegal to operate, drive, or to be in physical control of a motorboat when under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol.
Under Minnesota law, a person can be charged with a BWI if their alcohol concentration level is .08 or higher at the time they were operating or in control of a motorboat or within two hours afterward. If convicted, they will not be permitted to operate a motorboat in state waters for a period of ninety days between May 1 and October 31 – this penalty can be expanded to two consecutive years.
Failure to submit to a breath, blood or urine chemical test can result in a first-, second-, third- or fourth-degree driving while impaired sentence. Such a sentence can result in permit or license revocation from one year up to not less than six years, depending upon how many previous driving while impaired incidents the person has had in the prior ten year period, if any.
Stricter sentences can also be imposed if the violator had a passenger under the age of 16 in the motorboat, had previously refused a chemical test, or has an alcohol concentration of .16 or higher. If the offense is serious enough, felony charges can be leveled against the accused, with possible sentences of longer license revocation, imprisonment, or fines of up to $14,000.
It’s important to have qualified legal counsel if you’re charged with a BWI. Our experienced attorneys can represent you and defend your rights to achieve the most favorable outcome possible. Contact us to review your case and determine the best possible legal defense for your particular charges.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact attorney Kirk Anderson for an initial consultation.