BWI stands for “Boating While Intoxicated.” It is the same as a DWI charge, but indicates that the offender was operating a boat under the influence rather than a car.
In Minnesota, it is illegal to operate a boat or personal watercraft with a blood alcohol concentration greater than .08. Violators of this law can be charged with BWI (Boating While Intoxicated). Consequences of a Minnesota BWI are nearly the same as those of a Minnesota DWI offense. A first time BWI charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail, payment of a fine of $1,000, and suspension from operating a boat for 90 (boating season) days.
DWI Aggravating Factors
As with Minnesota DWIs, a Minnesota BWI charge is an enhanceable offense, meaning that if certain “aggravating factors” are present, the BWI charge becomes a gross misdemeanor or a felony and results in heavier sanctions.
BWI aggravating factors include:
- Operating a boat with a blood alcohol concentration of .16 percent or more
- A prior conviction for DWI or test refusal in the 10 years leading up to the charge
- A passenger under age 16 on the boat or watercraft at the time of the offense
The presence of any of these factors will result in a higher degree of BWI, such as a gross misdemeanor or a felony. The higher the degree of BWI, the stricter the punishment. Below are the penalties for gross misdemeanor BWI offenses:
- A fine of up to $3,000
- A longer period of mandatory jail time
- Participation in long-term monitoring programs
- Chemical Dependency assessments
- Loss of driver’s license privileges
- Plate impoundment of all motor vehicles owned by the offender
- Forfeiture of the boat involved in the incident
A felony BWI charge is the most serious. In addition to the above sanctions, felony BWI offenders can be sentenced to:
- Three to seven years in jail
- Up to $14,000 in fines
- Extended periods of license revocation
Minnesota BWI Attorneys
A seasoned Minnesota BWI defense lawyer can help keep these charges less severe. Regardless of the degree of your offense, an aggressive criminal defense attorney can help you resolve your case in a favorable way.