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Wisconsin boaters can face drunk driving charges

Summer is a great time for Wisconsin residents to beat the heat and enjoy the many lakes scattered throughout the state. While some people may enjoy floating along on rafts and canoes, others may prefer the adrenaline rush of flying across the water on a motor-powered vehicle.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is warning boaters that alcohol and boating do not mix. Intoxicated boat drivers can face drunk driving charges on the water just as they can on land. In addition to the obvious dangers of boating while intoxicated, the DNR is also reminding boaters to wear their life jackets, operate at safe and moderate speeds, and not pack too many people into a boat. Though weather and other non-boater related factors can cause problems on the water, DNR officials suggest that boaters always let others know when they are leaving and where they plan to take their boats.

It is not unusual for Wisconsin to experience boating related fatalities and the DNR hopes to avoid such tragedies by enforcing boating laws. Potential consequences for violating state boating laws can range from small fines for failing to wear a life vest to possible jail sentences for operating boats under the influence of alcohol.

While safety is the driving factor behind many of the DNR's regulations, boat operators should be aware of how such laws may impact their rights. Just as a DUI charge for operating a vehicle on land may negatively impact an individual's record, so too can a boat-related DUI hurt a person's credibility. Though obeying the laws is the best way to stay out of legal trouble, individuals facing boating while intoxicated charges have rights with regard to their legal defenses.

Source: Kenosha News, "Boaters urged to pay attention, make good choices," John Krerowicz, May 31, 2013

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