There are a number of lakes, rivers, and waterways across Missouri that give residents the chance to cool off on a hot summer's day. Recreation includes boating, fishing, kayaking, jet skis, wakeboarding, and swimming. Many people like to spend their time on the water while relaxing with a drink. However, one drink too many can lead to an arrest for boating under the influence.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, alcohol is a contributing circumstance in 27% of all fatal boating crashes in Missouri. As part of “Operation Dry Water,” law enforcement is stepping up patrols to look for impaired boaters. If you or a loved one was arrested for boating while intoxicated in Raymore or Cass County, talk to an experienced Missouri criminal defense lawyer to make sure a one-time mistake does not lead to criminal charges.
Increased MSHP Enforcement
According to the MSHP, officers have the authority with probable cause or by the use of sobriety checkpoints to verify compliance with state boating laws. Boaters who are operating a vessel on Missouri waters have given their implied consent to testing for alcohol or drugs on request. Refusal can lead to an arrest and penalties associated with drunk boating.
Over heightened enforcement periods, the MSHP has announced efforts to detect impaired boat operators. Last year, Operation Dry Water occurred from June 29th to July 1st. Troopers arrested seven people for boating while intoxicated and issued 84 violation summonses and hundreds of warnings. This year, the heightened enforcement weekend occurred just after the 4th of July from July 5th to July 7th.
BWI Charges in Missouri
Under Missouri Revised Statutes Section 306.110(2), “no person shall operate any motorboat or watercraft, or manipulate any water skis, surfboard or other waterborne device while intoxicated or under the influence of any narcotic drug, barbiturate or marijuana.”
Like a DWI in Missouri, a conviction for boating while intoxicated (BWI) first offense is a Class B misdemeanor. A second offense is a Class A misdemeanor. A third or subsequent BWI is a felony. Individuals may also be required to take a boating safety course that addresses the problems with boating and substance abuse.
Effects of Alcohol and Boating
It can be easy to lose track of how many drinks one has while out on a weekend or holiday on the water. However, the sun and dehydration can increase the effects of alcohol and make a boater feel more impaired than they expect. This can lead to reduced reaction times, perception problems, and increased risk-taking. This can place the boater, passengers, and others on the water at risk of injury or death, including drowning.
Consult an Experienced Missouri BWI and DWI Lawyer
If you face a first time BWI or DWI in Missouri this summer, there are defenses that can be raised to protect your constitutional rights so you can keep your license and avoid a criminal record. Contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm today by calling (816) 331-9968 or fill out our online form.
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