Boating While Intoxicated or BWI, is the act of operating a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or any hazardous substance that can impair a person’s ability to operate such a vehicle. This includes jet skis, motor boat, or any motorized craft that a person drives over water. The law does exclude canoes and rowboats because water propels those types of boats.
If you are arrested for BWI, you have the right to speak to an attorney, so it is imperative to call an experienced attorney as soon as possible. It is important to keep in mind that the police can use anything you say against you in court, but your BWI defense attorney can advise you on what to say and what not to say so that your case does not become even more complicated and so work can begin on your case as soon as possible.
BWI Vs. DWI
What most people do not realize is that DWI laws apply in a BWI case. Because alcohol tends to be involved in boating activities, it is heavily enforced in the state of 10,000 lakes. Even if there is not a police boat in the vicinity, you can still be cited for BWI if you are seen behind the wheel of a boat. If there is suspicion that you are intoxicated, giving authorities reason to check and a breath test reveals that you may be, then you can be charged with BWI.
Consequences of Boating While Intoxicated
Law enforcement has the right to board your boat for both security and safety reasons. While they are there, they may believe that they smell alcohol on your breath. They may even see others enjoying alcohol. While none of this is illegal, that gives them the reason to check to see if you are drinking and arrest you if the breath test reads a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or above.
As for the penalties of BWI, they can be just as steep as driving a motor vehicle on the road while intoxicated. The fines, if convicted, can be up to $7,500 and have been higher in some cases. The jail time can be up to two years. The boat license of the driver is also suspended for one year. Any waterway authority, including the Coast Guard can detain you.
Nonetheless, unfair BWI arrests do happen and you need your Minnesota BWI defense attorney to help you with this. An officer may see that your eyes are bloodshot and believe you are intoxicated rather than just tired or because you have been in the sun all day. If you are tired from a long day of boating, you could easily fail a field sobriety test. These are facts that have to be shown that could result in case dismissal or acquittal.
Contact A Minneapolis BWI Defense Lawyer
Boating While Intoxicated is as severe as driving a vehicle after drinking alcohol or being under the influence of any hazardous substance that could impair motor function. If you are charged with BWI, you need to defend yourself just as aggressively as you would if you were charged with DWI because the penalties are just as harsh. To learn more about the options available to you, contact the Anderson Law Firm, PLLC at 952-582-2904 for a free consultation.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact attorney Kirk Anderson for an initial consultation.