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What Happens if You Drive a Boat While Intoxicated? May 15, 2019

Columbia, Boone
What Happens if You Drive a Boat While Intoxicated?, Columbia, Missouri

If you drive a car or truck, you know that driving while intoxicated (DWI) endangers the lives of motorists, passengers, and pedestrians. However, you might not be familiar with the dangers and penalties of DWI when someone is behind the wheel of a boat. Before your next trip on Missouri’s waterways, here’s what you should know about operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Consequences of Driving While Intoxicated When Piloting a Boat

Missouri Prohibits Boating While Intoxicated

driving-while-intoxicatedColumbia-MOYou cannot operate a watercraft legally if you are under the influence of intoxicating drugs or alcohol. The criminal law against driving while intoxicated when boating (BWI) includes motorboats, surfboards, and water skis. BWI is prohibited on the Mississippi River, Missouri River, and the state’s lakes. Barbiturates, narcotics, and marijuana are classified as intoxicating drugs.

DWI on Waterways Can Be a Misdemeanor or Felony Crime

If you are arrested for DWI while boating, you face a class B misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine.  When someone dies as a result of an individual’s criminal negligence while BUI, the vessel operator faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, a class C felony. Physical injuries resulting from a watercraft accident when someone is driving while intoxicated can lead to prosecution for assault with a vessel, a class D felony. These carry prison terms of one to seven years, fines, and probation.


A conviction for driving while intoxicated means suffering stiff penalties, whether you’re behind the wheel of a car or a boat. Individuals facing DWI and BWI charges seek the strong advocacy of Missouri criminal law attorneys at the Law Office of Mike Hamilton. With more than 30 years of experience protecting the rights of defendants throughout the Columbia, MO, area, attorney Hamilton leads a dynamic team of professionals who navigate clients successfully through rough legal waters. Visit them online and learn more about their criminal law services. Call (573) 825-5698 to schedule your consultation.


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