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BWI - Boating While Intoxicated

BWI Charges in Minnesota

Twin Cities Area Boating While Intoxicated Defense Lawyer

While the laws in Minnesota around BWI or Boating While Intoxicated are not extremely complex, they do seem to raise a lot of questions from boat owners and boat operators who want to bring, store or consume alcohol on their boats. From a legal persepective, the only real difference between the DWI laws and the BWI (boating while intoxicated) laws is that they remove the "physical control" and "open container" elements of the law.

Open Container in a Boat

The "open container" aspect of Minnesota DWI law does NOT apply to boats. Meaning, you can have open containers (cans of beer, bottles of alcohol, etc) on a boat and that is NOT illegal. Even as the operator of a boat, you can have a beer in hand and even be drinking while you are driving, so long as you are not over (or near) the legal limit or operating the boat in a way that suggests you are under the influence of alcohol.

Physical Control of a Boat

If you are standing in or around a car, have the keys and are over the legal limit, you can, and will, be charged with a DWI in Minnesota. (For more information, see our page on DWI while you're NOT driving.) This element of the law also does not apply to boats. Meaning, that if you are the operator or sole occupant of a boat that is..."anchored, beached, moored, docked or being rowed or propelled by non-mechanical means at the time of the offense" you can not be chaged with a BWI. In other words, you have to be over the legal limit and actively operating a motorized boat to be charged with BWI in Minnesota.

Blurry Circumstances around BWI Charges

Technically, under the law, as long as your boat is anchored or otherwise not being operated, it is legal for you to be "under the influence" or alcohol or over the legal limit of .08%. However, we have handled several cases where law enforcement alledges that the boat WAS moved or operated while the driver was over the legal limit. You can see how this gets complicated quickly, and the key to developing an effective defense often lies in the specfic details around your activity, the police reports and the other circumstances around the arrest.

Free Consultations - Understand Minnesota Law and Your Rights

If you have been charged with a BWI, it's critical that you have an experienced attorney review your case. The law enforcement on lakes have a tendancy (especially on lakes where there have been a history of alcohol related problems) to assume that everyone is boating around completely wasted all of the time. Just like on the road, the police have a duty to follow all procedures to the letter of the law and not make any assumptions about who they are arresting. Call 701-353-5874 today or contact us online to start the defense to your BWI charge.

Boating while intoxicated in Minnesota