Last weekend marked the unofficial start to summer. Many of you may be ready to get the party started with barbecues, swimming, floating and boating as some of the top options for summer fun. After all, who doesn’t like to kick back and enjoy all of the natural beauty Missouri has to offer in its many lakes and rivers. Nothing would ruin a good time, however, like a boating while intoxicated charge; which can carry steep fines and even felony charges. If you plan on taking to the waters this summer here is what you need to know about Missouri’s boating while intoxicated laws.
Boating While Intoxicated
Missouri statute 577.013 explicitly prohibits boating while intoxicated or BWI in the shorthand. The legal limit in Missouri for a person’s blood alcohol content is 0.08% and anyone operating a vessel above that amount will be subject to a boating while intoxicated charge. Just like their counterparts on land, Missouri Water Patrol can issue field sobriety tests as well as breathalyzer tests in the field to determine if one’s blood alcohol content is over the limit. The law not only prohibits the operation of a vessel while under the influence of alcohol, but also any combination or use of alcohol, controlled substances, and/or drugs. Just like driving laws, Missouri law states that simply operating a vessel on Missouri waters means that the driver has consented to be tested for drugs and/or alcohol by a law enforcement professional.
The law provides a range of punishments to fit the crime depending on circumstances including:
- First-time offenders may be charged with a class B misdemeanor upon their first conviction which may include fines and a requirement to attend and pass a state-approved boater safety course.
- Second-time offenders may be charged and convicted of a class A misdemeanor as well as related fines.
- Any additional offenses will include class D felony charges and potential jail time in addition to fees and fines.
- If a person, boating while intoxicated, causes the death or serious injury to another person they may be subject to felony charges even if it is their first offense.
Additionally, the law also states that use of drinking devices that allow for rapid consumption of alcohol, such as “beer bongs” as they are colloquially called, are prohibited on Missouri rivers. There are three exceptions to this rule, however; the Mississippi, Missouri and Osage rivers have no such prohibition.
This blog is not meant to scare anyone away from a fun summer on the water. After all, drinking and operating a vehicle is never a good idea. These rules are put in place to help keep Missouri’s waterways safe for everyone. Should you find yourself in hot water on Missouri’s waterways, however, it is important to know your rights. If you are arrested for boating while intoxicated, or any criminal charge, you have the right to contact an attorney. You also have the right to remain silent. It is important to remember these rights to prevent any potential forself-incriminationn.
If you have questions about a boating while intoxicated charge, or any criminal charges you may be facing you can contact the Diemer Law Firm for a free consultation. Call us today.