Much like an automobile based Michigan OWI, piloting a boat while under the influence of alcohol in Michigan is illegal. Michigan Impaired Boating cases are prosecuted under the Marine Safety section of the Michigan Environmental Protection Act (MEPA).
The MEPA Michigan Impaired Boating statute requires a defendant to be “operating” a “vessel” upon any waterway in Michigan while under the influence of alcohol. The Michigan Impaired Boating statute even applies to jet-skis and rowboats.
There are some significant differences between an automobile based Michigan OWI charge and a Michigan Impaired Boating charge. When charging a defendant with a Michigan OWI, the police generally the presence of a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher for drivers over the age of 21. However, when charging an individual with Michigan Impaired Boating the police require a slightly higher BAC of .10%. Furthermore, there is no “Zero Tolerance” law for boaters under the age of 21. Finally, the Michigan Drunk Boating statute does not recognize a charge of operating under the influence of drugs or prescription medications.
Another key distinction between a Michigan OWI and a Michigan Impaired boating charge is what the prosecutor's “burden of proof” is. The prosecutor does not need to prove your BAC % was over the legal limit at the time you were in the operation of a vessel. He only needs to prove that your ability to operate the vessel was “visibly impaired” by the presence of alcohol in your body. This is a nuanced distinction that an experienced Michigan OWI defense attorney will need to understand. While the Michigan OWI involving an automobile relies upon a static number (.08% BAC), the Michigan Drunk Boating charge can be sustained merely by the subjective observations of the police officer. A skilled Michigan OWI defense attorney will know how to attack the subjective claims of the arresting officer(s).
Similar to the automobile based Michigan OWI statute, a Michigan Drunk Boating accident that results in a death will be charged as a Homicide. A Michigan Drunk Boating accident that results in someone suffering a serious bodily injury will also be charged with a felony offense. Michigan Drunk Boating felony offenses can result in a prison sentence. Additionally, much like Michigan OWI's, Michigan Drunk Boating convictions carry significant fines and costs.
Notwithstanding the above, many of the strategies that a skilled Michigan OWI defense attorney brings to an automobile based Michigan OWI are the same as those employed in a Michigan Impaired boating defense.
If you have been charged with Michigan Drunk Boating you need to take the allegation seriously. Attorney Richard I. Lippitt has the experience and knowledge that is required to confront your case. Mr. Lippitt employs a vast network of scientific and blood experts who can potentially challenge your Michigan Impaired Boating arrest. Additionally, Mr. Lippitt possesses the legal scholarship necessary to develop potential constitutional challenges of your Michigan Impaired Boating arrest.
Michigan OWI defense attorney Richard I. Lippitt is highly skilled and experienced in investigating and challenging the facts and circumstances of Michigan OWI and Michigan Drunk Boating arrests. Mr. Lippitt appears in Michigan courts over 350 times each year in defense of Michigan OWIs.
Attorney Richard I. Lippitt stands ready to provide you with a free, no obligation meeting regarding your Michigan Drunk Boating arrest. Please call (248) 921-7164 or request a Free Case Evaluation via the form on this page.