Drinking and Boating - A pre-season reminder to Get a Captain! / by Ryan

U.S. Coast Guard Official Seal

Like most boaters this spring, you are likely planning a series of scenic tours, dinners, and entertainment aboard your beloved vessel. And why shouldn't you? Entertaining and personal enjoyment are the reasons we enjoy boating! As we all know though, drinking and driving rules apply to the road and to the water. Those rules are not always the same though and a failure to understand the differences could cost you big! This brief primer from attorney Todd Levitt outlines the rules and penalties (among other things) for boating under the influence in Michigan. An excerpt...

The following conditions determine if you are boating under the influence.

If your blood alcohol content is 0.10% or greater by weight of alcohol as determined by a breath, blood, or urine test, you are considered to be under the influence of alcohol. If your blood alcohol content is greater than 0.07% but less than 0.10% by weight of alcohol as determined by a breath, blood, or urine test, a law enforcement officer can consider that fact along with other evidence in determining if you are under the influence.

Michigan law establishes the following penalties.

People arrested for boating under the influence are guilty of a misdemeanor. Upon a third conviction within 10 years, a person will be guilty of a felony. If a person boating under the influence causes great bodily injury or death of another person, he or she will be guilty of a felony. By operating a vessel on Michigan waters, you have consented to be tested for alcohol or drugs if arrested by a law enforcement official.

The article includes rules on who can operate a boat, age restrictions, jurisdictions, no-wake rules, and other common operating rules. Rather than sifting through the giant rulebook yourself, I suggest you check out the rest of the article here and save yourself a potential headache this summer.

Unlike driving a vehicle, DNR officers and Coast Guard officials do not need probable cause to board your vessel and perform a "safety check". The rules are strict and the penalties are firm, so follow our advice - GET A CAPTAIN!

Enjoy your night out, drink to your heart's content, and call First Mate for a captain to get you back to the dock safe!

Related articles