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Boating DUIs and charter licensing

The great Wisconsin outdoors are a lot of things: beauty, sport and, jointly, relaxation. For many, boating and beer go hand in hand.

Not only is it illegal to operate a boat under the influence, but it's treated very similar to driving a car after consuming alcohol. The DNR can issue a DUI ticket for personal boating and, similar to commercial driver's licenses on land, commercial boat captains face even harsher penalties.

Commercial penalties

A CDL-holding land driver will receive a ticket for a .04% BAC, half the legal limit of a recreational driver. It's the same for Wisconsin commercial captains, and that's just the start of the penalties for consumption behind the wheel of a boat.

You've chosen a life on Lake Michigan because of an affinity for the water and the spirit of the port towns along its shores. You've paid for training and certification and there's a lot of on the line. A single DUI can cost your licensure, which is a death knell for your captain's career. Besides the licensing and financial cost, a DUI can hurt professional reputation and your employer's reputation too, meaning that even if you hold onto your license, your company may let you go.

Your legal rights

While alcohol boating policies provide much needed safety on Wisconsin waterways, sometimes the enforcement isn't on par with personal rights. Just like a DUI, operators often assume guilt when facing a ticket or arrest without exploring their legal rights.

An arresting officer must carefully measure and monitor your behavior and level of intoxication, also watching for signs that may trigger a "false positive" of the sobriety test. After all, DUI is a criminal charge and that means you must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Health conditions and faulty breath test machines can sway results. An accused boater is going to be highly stressed when confronted, which triggers nervous behavior that can affect faculties like balance and speech.

Anyone facing a boating DUI is also facing a hit to their professional reputation and more. Avoidance of alcohol when handling a boat is the safest way to protect your career but if accidents happen, there are legal options to reduce your punishment or have charges dropped. A consultation with a DUI attorney will provide insight about your options to protect your legal rights and your livelihood. 

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Melowski & Associates, LLC
524 South Pier Drive
Sheboygan, WI 53081

Phone: 920-299-5074
Fax: 920-395-2443
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