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Does implied consent apply to boating-based DUI charges?

This Wisconsin DUI defense blog has discussed in prior posts the implied consent law that affects those who operate vehicles in the state. When a person drives on a Wisconsin road, the person implicitly agrees to be tested for drunk driving if the person is suspected of being under the influence while behind the wheel. However, cars and trucks are not the only vehicles Wisconsin residents drive. With spring here and summer rapidly approaching, some may wonder if implied consent applies to the drivers of boats.

The short answer to this inquiry is yes. According to the Handbook of Wisconsin Boating Laws and Responsibilities, the state's implied consent law reaches to the operators of water vessels. The same blood alcohol threshold applies to boaters as well. A BAC of .08 percent or greater is deemed to be above the safe limit to drive a boat in Wisconsin.

Generally speaking, the rules of the road also apply to the rules of the waterways. As such, state agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources have the authority to police the alcohol consumption of boaters and test them for boating while intoxicated when so suspected. A drunk boating arrest on the water can result in a DUI for the affected individual and a set of legal challenges as well.

However, just as road driving laws basically attach to boat driving, so too do the defenses and rights that DUI suspects possess regardless of whether their arrests were on land or on water. A boating DUI can be defended with facts and a person accused of water-based drunk driving may see the person's matter heard in court. Individuals charged with water-based DUIs do not have to simply accept the allegations made against them; they may fight their charges and exercise their rights under the law.

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