Boaters take to the thousands of lakes and other waters of Michigan for fun and relaxation in droves every summer. Michigan is among the states with the largest number of registered boats in the country.
As enjoyable as it can be, boating is serious business. As with driving a car or other vehicle, operating a boat requires training, attention and focus. Boat operators are also required to abide by numerous laws and regulations. These involve registration of vessels and having the proper equipment on board (like life jackets). There are age restrictions for operating various types of watercraft.
State and federal authorities enforce the laws
Michigan’s boating laws are enforced by state and county law enforcement agencies as well as the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), which also has authority on federally controlled waters. Law enforcement officers have the authority to stop and go aboard vessels.
One of the most serious criminal charges a boat operator can face is being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Michigan law refers to it as “operating a motorboat under the influence.” It’s also illegal for the owner of a boat to allow someone else to operate it while under the influence. By operating a boat in our state’s waters, a person consents to alcohol and drug testing if they’re arrested.
Impaired boating laws are similar to impaired driving laws
The crime carries similar penalties to an OWI charge for operating a vehicle while under the influence. As with OWI charges, it’s illegal to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher. A first conviction is a misdemeanor unless someone is seriously injured or killed. Then it’s a felony.
If you’re facing charges of operating a boat while under the influence, it’s crucial to take the matter seriously. Don’t underestimate the potential consequences of a conviction on your life. It’s wise to have experienced legal guidance to protect your rights and work toward the best possible outcome.