Boating While Impaired



First time BWI offenders face up to 365 days in jail, depending on blood alcohol content.  Also very significant for Minnesota Boaters is the loss of boating privileges for 3 months during the boating season (You will be notified by the Minnesota DNR).


If any of the following factors are present, the BWI automatically becomes a gross misdemeanor and you’ll face up to a year in jail and/or a $3000 fine.  What constitutes aggravating factors?  The following:

  • Boat drivers blood alcohol content of 0.16 or more;
  • Prior DWI/BWI convictions in the last 10 years; or
  • A child under the age of 16 on the boat at the time of the offense.


A violator who has no qualified prior impaired driving incident is subject only to the loss of operating privileges for their boat for the relevant period of suspension. Any person arrested for a DWI violation involving a motorboat and who has a qualified prior impaired driving incident on record is subject to the same administrative sanctions and criminal penalties as the person would be if arrested while driving a regular motor vehicle.


Image of fishing boat

Yes, you can lose your boat.

Yes, it’s true under certain conditions your boat can forfeited.  If it’s your second BWI and your blood alcohol content is above a 0.16 it can lead to a forfeiture of your boat, even if it’s your first offense and you are over a 0.16 and their is a child under 16 it can lead to a boat forfeiture!

If your boat has been forfeited you can file a lawsuit to get your boat back, but you have a very limited period of time to do so.


Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be even more dangerous than driving a car while impaired. Balance can be greatly affected by consuming alcohol and the operation of boat while under the influence can prove very difficult. In fact, in boating deaths involving alcohol use, over half the victims capsized their boats or fell into the water.


If you face BWI charges in Minnesota, you need to know your rights and you need to them immediately.  You are under a very tight time limit for boat forfeiture, loss of license and jail.  Call 507-625-5000 today for a free consultation.

Rosengren Kohlmeyer & Hagen Law Office
150 St. Andrews Court, Suite 110 56001

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