In a land of more than 10,000 lakes, it is likely you may find yourself on the water this summer. But keep in mind, Minnesota law prohibits operating a motorboat while intoxicated or high on drugs. If you are found driving a boat with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 or higher, or impaired by drugs, you may be charged with BWI.
There are four degrees of BWIs, each with varying degrees of penalty, similar to DWI offenses. All boaters convicted of a BWI will face suspension of their boating license for at least 90 days. Here is a brief overview of BWI degrees and the associated penalties:
First-degree BWI. The most serious offense, a first degree BWI is a felony and may carry up to $14,000 in fines and more than three years in prison. A person can be convicted of this charge if they have three or more prior BWIs in the past 10 years, have a prior first-degree BWI or DWI, or have a prior felony conviction.
Second-degree BWI. Considered a gross misdemeanor, this charge typically brings at least 90 days in jail, and up to $3,000 in fines. An offender may be charged if there are two or more prior convictions within the past ten years, or if they refused chemical testing.
Third-degree BWI. A gross misdemeanor with about $3,000 in fines and either jail time and/or community service associated with it, this offense is for offenders with one BWI or DWI in the past ten years.
Fourth-degree BWI. A standard first offense is categorized as a misdemeanor, fourth-degree BWI. Convicted boaters may face up to 90 days in jail and/or a maximum of $1,000 in fines.
If you plan on boating this summer–as many Americans do–plan for a sober captain, pack lots of water, and do so in moderation.