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Drinking and driving your boat could land you in big trouble

When classes are out for the summer, you and your friends may be heading to the water. After all, Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

A lazy day on the water may be on your mind, but remember that drinking and driving a boat do not mix. In our state, the penalties for boating while intoxicated can be harsh.

More dangerous on the water

You may not think there is a problem driving a car after you have had a couple of beers, but it is a different story when you are operating a boat. The motion of the boat, the vibration and engine noise add to the effects of the sun and wind and accelerate alcohol impairment. The same holds true if you are operating a personal watercraft. Furthermore, you are probably less experienced as a boat captain, which increases the chances of a problem related to alcohol.

Noting the effects

If you choose to drink while driving your boat or watercraft, be aware of the effects on your body. To begin with, alcohol adversely affects your cognitive abilities, and you might find it difficult to make good decisions. You will probably have balance and coordination problems, your depth perception will be reduced, and your reaction time can slow down significantly. If you should fall overboard, remember that alcohol has a warming effect on your body. This could be dangerous if you are in cold water; you might not get out before the onset of hypothermia.

The laws pertaining to BWI

The United States Coast Guard enforces federal law that pertains to boating while intoxicated. In the state of Minnesota, the rules are very simple: You are prohibited from operating a boat if you are under the influence of alcohol. A criminal defense attorney will remind you that you can be charged with BWI if you have a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 or above. You and your friends deserve a day on the water free from the specter of heavy fines, possible jail time or the loss of boating privileges, so maintain a simple policy: No alcohol on board.

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