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Boating While Impaired

Boating while impaired, or BWI, is the criminal act of driving or operating a motorized boat while under the influence of alcohol or any substance that could impair a person's ability to operate the vehicle safely. This includes motorboats, jet skis, and any watercraft that is propelled by a motor.

Though a boat is involved the penalties for BWI can be just as severe as a DWI offense and could result in a person losing their driving privileges, spending time imprisoned, and being forced to pay costly fines.

Having a knowledgeable attorney representing your interests could drastically change the outcome of your case.

Lawyer for Boating While Impaired in Dakota County, Minnesota

James Blumberg is a former prosecutor with over ten years of experience litigating cases throughout Dakota County criminal courts. Over this extensive period of public service, Attorney Blumberg has successfully represented clients charged with various types of criminal offenses, including both BWI and DWI.

With his office conveniently located in Apple Valley, Minnesota, James Blumberg Law has represented the interests of clients in Eagen, Burnsville, Lakeville, and the remainder of Dakota County.

Contact James Blumberg Law today at (952) 431-7758 or submit an online contact form to schedule your free initial consultation with an experienced Minnesota BWI criminal defense attorney today.

Overview of Boating While Impaired in Minnesota


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Boating While Impaired Laws in Minnesota

Minnesota Statute 169A.20.1a an individual may be charged with boating while impaired, or also known as "BWI", when they are operating or in physical control of a motorboat on any waters or boundary waters of the state of Minnesota when:

  • The person is under the influence of alcohol,
  • The person is under the influence of a controlled substance,
  • The person is knowingly under the influence of a hazardous substance that affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles of the person so as to substantially impair the person's ability to drive or operate the motorboat,
  • The person is under the influence of a combination of any two or more of the elements named in clauses (1)to (3),
  • The person's alcohol concentration at the time, or as measured within two hours of the time, of driving, operating, or being in physical control of the motorboat is 0.08 or more, or
  • The person's body contains any amount of a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or II, or its metabolite, other than marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols.

In order for a person to be convicted of boating while impaired, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant was operating or in physical control of a motorboat on Minnesota's waters,
  • The defendant was under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, a substance that impairs the person's ability to drive or operate the motorboat, or the combination of two or more,
  • The person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was measured at 0.08 or more within two hours of operating or driving the motorboat, or
  • The defendant's body contained any amount of a Schedule I or II controlled substance.

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Penalties for Boating While Impaired in Apple Valley, Minnesota

A first-time BWI offender will be subjected to both criminal penalties and administrative sanctions. When a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level was determined to be below 0.16, or less than twice the legal limit, the person will be charged with a fourth-degree BWI, a misdemeanor offense. The penalties for a fourth-degree BWI misdemeanor include:

  • 90 days imprisonment, and
  • $1,000 fine

However, when certain "aggravating factors" are present, a first-time BWI offense becomes an enhanced criminal charge and imposes more severe penalties. If any of the following aggravating factors are present, the offense automatically becomes a gross misdemeanor:

  • Alcohol concentration of 0.16 or more,
  • Prior impaired driving conviction(s) or refusal(s) within the past 10 years, or
  • A child passenger less than 16 years of age at the time of the offense.

Being convicted of a gross misdemeanor BWI charge could result in the following criminal penalties, including, but not limited to:


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Administrative Sanctions – Refused Chemical Test

In the state of Minnesota, it is a separate crime for any person to refuse to submit to a chemical test of their blood, breath, or urine to determine intoxication. This is known as the implied consent.

When a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe the person was boating while impaired and the driver refused to submit to chemical testing, the commissioner shall revoke the person's driver's license:

  • 12 months for a person with no prior impaired driving incidents within the past 10 years,
  • 12 months for a person under the age of 21 without prior impaired driving incidents within the past 10 years,
  • 24 months for a person with one prior impaired driving incident within the past 10 years, or a total of two prior impaired driving incidents,
  • 36 months for a person with two prior impaired driving incidents within the past 10 years, or a total of three prior impaired driving incidents,
  • 48 months for a person with three qualified impaired driving incidents within the past 10 years, or
  • 72 months for a person with four or more qualified prior impaired driving incidents.

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Administrative Sanctions – Failed Chemical Test

When a law enforcement officer had probable cause to believe that a person was boating while impaired and the driver submitted to a chemical test to determine their BAC without refusal but results indicated their BAC was 0.08 or more, or the presence of a Schedule I or II controlled substance other than marijuana, the commissioner shall revoke the person's license for a period of:

  • 90 days for BAC 0.08 to 0.15, or
  • Minimum of 12 months for BAC 0.16 or more

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Administrative Suspension – Under age of 21

Minnesota law has separate regulations for people under the age of 21 that willingly consume alcohol then operate a motor vehicle, including a motorboat.

When a law enforcement officer had probable cause to believe a person under the age of 21 was boating while impaired, and the person refused chemical testing, their driving privileges will be suspended for a minimum period of 180 days.

When a person under the age of 21 was boating while intoxicated and a chemical test determined the person had a BAC of 0.16 or more, the person will have their driving privileges suspended for a minimum period of 12 months.


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Minnesota Boating While Impaired Resources

Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services – Visit this website to acquire additional information regarding the process of suspending a person's driving privileges resulting from a boating while intoxicated offense and the procedures in place for a person to have their driving privileges reinstated.

Substance Use in Minnesota – Visit this website for more information on SUMN (Substance Use in Minnesota), an organization funded by the Minnesota Department of Human Services that provides data and resources to the public regarding various forms of substance abuse taking place in Minnesota as well as ways to combat the epidemic.


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Boating While Impaired Attorney in Dakota County

Being convicted of a BWI offense could not only result in a monetary fine and a lofty blemish on your record, you could also lose your driving privileges and required to spend months imprisoned.

Contact James Blumberg of James Blumberg Law today at (952) 431-7758 or submit an online contact form to schedule your free initial consultation and have your case reviewed by our talented attorney.


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James L. Blumberg

Attorney James L. Blumberg

As a former prosecutor in the Dakota County Attorney’s Office, James Blumberg has experience on both sides of the criminal courtroom. He knows how to fight to get charges reduced or dismissed for clients in the Twin Cities area.

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