Minnesota’s boating season is in full force. With over 10,000 lakes to enjoy, Minnesotans come out in droves to enjoy a summer on the water.
But did you know that the decisions you make on the lakes could affect you on the road? Before you drop anchor, it’s crucial that you understand Minnesota’s Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) laws.
In Minnesota, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration is the same whether you’re operating a car or a boat: 0.08.
If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe you may be over the limit, you will be “asked” to submit to a test to determine your blood alcohol concentration. If you refuse to submit to a test, you can face additional penalties.
Sound familiar? That’s because it’s the same story when you’re behind the wheel of a car. But here’s what really makes waves: If you’re convicted of a BWI (or you refuse a test), it goes on your motor vehicle driver’s license record. How’s that for a ripple effect?
Even a first-time BWI conviction can result in serious penalties including fines, loss of motorboat operating privileges and even possible jail time.
For repeat offenders and/or those with aggravating circumstances, penalties can include mandatory jail time, loss of motor vehicle driver’s license or plates, and forfeiture of the motorboat and trailer.
While BWI laws do have a lot in common with DUI/DWI laws, there are important differences. If you’re facing a possible BWI conviction, you need an experienced attorney on your side who knows the ins and outs of BWI laws.
When it comes to your summer on the lakes, the right attorney could mean the difference between rough waters and smooth sailing.
Source: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources 2011 Minnesota Boating Guide