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Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) in Minnesota

In the land of 10,000 lakes, it is a staple of most summers to spend some time out on the water. Whether by boat, jet ski, or other watercraft, many Minnesotans will venture out into one of our majestic lakes or rivers during the boating months of May to October. Getting out on the water can be a great escape but getting a DWI while operating a motorboat can now impact your driver’s license.

As of today, August 1, 2018, if you get a DWI while driving a boat, you will be subjected to the same driver’s license penalties as if you were driving a vehicle. The legislature repealed Minnesota Statue 169A.07, which allowed first-time violators the ability to keep their driver’s license. Additionally, the new law will trigger a loss of boating privileges for a season for those convicted of any DWI regardless of whether it occurs on water or land. The implied consent process will still be available for challenging driver’s license revocations and loss of your boating privileges being through either an administrative or judicial review.

Criminally, the process for getting a BWI (boating while intoxicated) operates similarly to a DWI. First-time offenders are subject to a misdemeanor offense – up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, unless an aggravating factor[1]is present or a refusal[2]applies. For repeat offenders, as long as it is not their fourth DWI-related incident within the previous ten years and they do not have a prior felony DWI, they will face a gross misdemeanor charge – up to 365 days in jail and a $3,000 fine.[3]For those with a prior felony DWI conviction, or their fourth incident within 10 years, then they will face a felony charge and potential prison time.

Importantly, the boat must have a motor for you to be at risk of a BWI. If the boat is being rowed or propelled by non-mechanical means, then it is similar to you riding your bike wasted. No need to worry about a DWI or BWI. These laws focus on motorized vehicles and vessels.

For a free consultation contact Ambrose Law Firm, PLLC at 651-800-4842 or by email at ambroselegal@icloud.com.

Robert H. Ambrose is a criminal defense lawyer and DWI attorney in Minnesota. Super Lawyers named him a Rising Star for the past three years; The National Trial Lawyer’s Organization named him a Top 40 Under 40 Trial Lawyer the past five years; and he is a member of the National College of DUI Defense. DWI Attorneys Woodbury; Minnesota Boating While Intoxicated Lawyer; and Minnesota DUI Attorney.

[1]Aggravating factors include testing at least twice the legal limit, having a child under 16 years old aboard, or having a prior DWI-related incident within the previous 10 years.

[2]Currently refusing an evidentiary breath test is a crime; and refusing a blood or urine test if accompanied by a warrant.

[3]Importantly, in virtually every county in the state, it is incredibly rare for anyone to receive the maximum sentence. But, everyone’s case is different and should be assessed carefully.

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