As Memorial Day weekend approaches which heralds the start of a busy boating summer in Minnesota it’s important that boaters are aware the police will be out in force watching for any signs of intoxication.
Memorial Day weekend traditionally serves as the first big boating weekend for Minnesotans and also serves as the start of an increased police presence on state waterways. As more people head to the water for fun, law enforcement officials will be out actively searching for those who are boating while intoxicated.
Drinking and outdoor activities may go hand in hand for some, as a result, many may not realize the seriousness of an arrest for BWI. Boating while intoxicated is generally treated the same as a DWI. If a boater is found to have a BAC of .08 or more, they will be arrested and taken to jail. If the boater has a prior DWI conviction or designated license revocation, the boater could also lose his or her driving privileges, both on land and on water.
If you’re convicted of a BWI, the offense could potentially appear on your motor vehicle record just like a DWI conviction. Even a first-time BWI charge, without a prior DWI conviction or designated license revocation, could result in severe penalties including substantial fines, loss of your boat operating privileges and potentially even jail time. For those arrested for a second or third time, penalties will enhance for a repeat offender and can include automatic jail time and even loss of the boat you were driving at the time of the arrest.
The dangers of drinking and boating are as serious as drinking and driving a car. The fact is alcohol consumption while boating can be even more dangerous given that most boaters are less experienced on the water than on pavement. Most weekend boat operators are out driving a handful of times each year and are thus already more prone to dangerous accidents. Throw in alcohol consumption, and it can be a recipe for disaster. As further evidence of the danger, one statistic says that a intoxicated boater is 10 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than his sober counterpart.
What should you do to avoid the possibility of getting popped for a BWI this summer? Here are a few suggestions:
- Designate a sober boat driver prior to getting out on the water.
- Bring a variety of drinks including plenty of water, sodas and other non-alcoholic beverages.
- Don’t assume that just because you are also eating on the boat that this somehow will reduce your level of intoxication. Remember, the best policy is to not drink alcohol at all, if you are going to be the one driving or operating the boat.
- If you dock somewhere to get lunch or dinner and drink with your food, again make sure you’ve previously designated a sober driver that can operate and bring the boat home.
- If you really want to drink during your time outside, plan the party for when the boat is docked for the day or night and you’re not on it. Having a drink in a picnic area, at a boating club or even on the dock itself is a good way to avoid an arrest for intoxicated boating.
If you’re facing a possible BWI charge, you need a skilled Minnesota DWI attorney on your side. Rely on the experience of Minneapolis based Douglas T. Kans of Kans Law Firm, LLC.
Source: “Sheriff Says Water Patrol Will Be Out in Force During Memorial Day Weekend,” by Jay Corn, published at Minnetonka.Patch.com.