Is It Illegal to Operate a Boat Under the Influence?


a group of people with glasses of champagne on a boatEveryone knows that it is illegal to drink and drive. However, not everyone understands the same rule applies to boating. Below, we discuss a boating while intoxicated (BWI) charge and what you can do if you have been injured by an intoxicated boater.

What Is a Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) Charge?

A BWI charge varies from state to state. In Missouri, boaters may not operate a vessel with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher–the same legal limit for driving a car. Those convicted of a BWI may face the following penalties:
  • Hefty fines
  • Jail time
  • Participation in continuous alcohol monitoring and substance abuse treatment
The penalties an individual receives depend on the severity of the crime they committed.

Why Is Boating Under the Influence So Dangerous?

Many people have the misconception that they only have to be sober when operating a car, and not any other vehicle. However, it is extremely dangerous, and also illegal, to operate any type of machinery while intoxicated–including boats and other watercraft. When a person drinks alcohol, their entire system becomes impaired, even if just slightly after one drink. As the person continues to drink, this level of impairment increases dramatically. Most people with the following BAC levels will experience these symptoms:
  • 0.01-0.03%: Slight mood elevation
  • 0.04-0.06%: Minor impairment of reasoning and memory
  • 0.07-0.09%: Mild impairment of balance, speech, vision, and control
  • 0.10-0.12%: Significant impairment of motor function and loss of judgment
  • 0.13-0.15%: Gross impairment of motor control
  • 0.16-0.20%: Dysphoria predominates and nausea may appear
  • 0.25-0.30%: Severe intoxication involving loss of motor control and vomiting
  • 0.35-0.40%: Loss of consciousness
  • 0.40% and up: Onset of coma and chance of death due to respiratory failure
These effects are dangerous on their own while on land, but can be even more pronounced while on a boat, where maintaining balance is more difficult. Despite the dangers and illegality of boating under the influence, many people still choose to engage in it. If you or someone you love has been harmed by an intoxicated boater, our Kansas City and Topeka personal injury attorneys are here to help. We know the potentially devastating consequences of a BWI, and we want to help you seek justice.

Call DiPasquale Moore at (816) 888-7500 to schedule a free consultation.


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