Beware of BWI laws in Wisconsin

Everyone knows that it is illegal to drink and drive. However, did you also know it is illegal to drink and drive a boat?

Operating a boat while intoxicated (BWI) is unlawful in the state of Wisconsin. Alcohol is the number one cause of boating-related deaths. In 2017, there were over 100 fatalities in boating crashes involving alcohol across the United States. Additionally, over 225 people sustained injuries, according to recent reports.

In Wisconsin, alcohol use is the second biggest contributing factor to boating crashes behind operator inexperience. In 2017, there were 10 boating crashes due to alcohol use. Tragically, three people died as a result, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Wisconsin law prohibits boaters from operating a boat with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. Additionally, if there is a “detectable amount” of a controlled substance in a boat operator’s blood levels, he or she can also receive a BWI conviction.

There can be severe penalties for a BWI conviction. For a first offense, a person will typically receive a fine between $150 and $300. A second offense can carry fines and jail time, including six months of jail time and fines up to $1 thousand. Third-time BWI offenders can face 12 months in jail and fines of up to $2 thousand.

Additionally, if someone is injured in a boating crash involving a BWI offender, the person driving the boat can face up to one year behind bars and fines up to $2 thousand. If you are charged with a BWI offense, it can be beneficial to consult with an experienced Wisconsin criminal defense attorney to discuss your next steps.