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Understanding the penalties with boating while intoxicated

Most people in Iowa know that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law, but what about operating other vehicles? Over the last couple of years, Iowa laws have become increasingly tough on people who operate other motorized vehicles while intoxicated, especially in regards to the crime of boating while intoxicated.

Boating is meant to be a fun and carefree way to spend a summer afternoon or weekend, and in general Iowa law is much more lenient when it comes to open alcohol containers in watercraft as opposed to open containers in cars. In this environment it may be tempting for a person who has been drinking to pilot a boat, even momentarily or at the request of another passenger, but in the eyes of the law boating under the influence is a crime no matter the reason.

Boating while intoxicated, or BWI, may be charged any time a boat operator's blood-alcohol content exceeds .08, the same threshold for operating while intoxicated. In addition to stiff fines, people could have their boating privileges suspended or even spend a week in jail. Repeat offenders might even face felony charges.

BWI is no joke, which is why anyone whose boat outing ended in police custody should probably begin to assess their options immediately. BWI field sobriety tests are not infallible, and environmental factors and other considerations should be explored before a prosecutor is able to prove the accuracy of a BWI test on site or otherwise. If the evidence isn't present, people charged with BWI might see their charges dismissed or find themselves facing fewer damaging consequences. Our firm strives to help clients make the best decisions in their unique circumstances.

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J. Dean Keegan and Thomas D. Farnsworth, Attorneys at Law
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Cedar Rapids, IA 52406

Cedar Rapids Criminal Law Office

J. Dean Keegan and Thomas D. Farnsworth, Attorneys at Law
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Iowa City, IA 52240

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