The summer season is just around the corner, and already people are firing up their grills.  People are also planning on getting out on the water.  Summer is when people get out in boats, and do what is common when people get on the water.  People are drinking and enjoying their time out on the water.  Unfortunately, just as you can get a DWI if you have too much to drink and drive, you can be charged with Boating While Impaired if an officer thinks that you have had too much to drink.

BWI can ruin a good time on the water.  There are numerous differences between DWI and BWI.  First, the officer will use some different techniques to discover if a person is impaired.  Obviously, trying to do a Walk and Turn Test and One Leg Stand Test in a boat would not prove very useful to determine who is impaired.  The officer will use alternate tests to determine impairment.

Secondly, the penalties are very different for BWI.  While a DWI affects your driving privileges, BWI does not affect your licensing to drive a car.  It also is not sentenced under the DWI system; it is sentenced like an ordinary misdemeanor.  In some ways, a BWI is a less serious charge than a DWI.  However, it should still be taken seriously.  BWI is a Class 2 misdemeanor, and the person must receive a fine of at least $250.

There are some similarities between DWI and BWI though.  The statute says that a person should not boat “while under the influence of an impairing substance,” or having “an alcohol concentration of .08 or more.”  This mirrors the language of the DWI statute.  There are two different ways to get charged with BWI- through being appreciably impaired, or by having a blood alcohol content of .o8 or more.

Take this as a warning to be safe on the water.  Whether you are operating a boat, jet ski, or even waterskiing, you can face penalties for being impaired.  In addition to the legal penalties, you could hurt yourself or others, so it is always the best practice to keep alcohol and water activities separate.