Boating Under the Influence

Just about everyone nowadays recognizes that there are dangers associated with operating a motorized vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is not to imply that people don’t do it; however, it is widely recognized as a danger to all involved.

Driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated usually stirs up images of a few bad decisions at the bar. However, there are plenty of recorded fatalities in this country that don’t involve alcohol at all; rather, narcotics are the culprit. With the country loosening its stance on the former prohibitions against marijuana, some have argued that there will be an increase in DUIs and DWIs for those who choose to drive while high. And of course, the concern isn’t limited to driving on the roadways under the influence; in fact, boating under the influence is commonplace as well, and is prohibited.

The following includes some important information regarding boating and marijuana.


Federal law states that if the boat is a recreational vessel the person who chooses to operate the boat can be held liable to the government for up to $5,000. If the vessel is not recreational the fine can be increased up to $25,000. The violation is considered a Class A misdemeanor. Boating under the influence is not a felony under federal law. The statute also specifies that unless you are operating a state government vessel, the government has jurisdiction over your case. This means they can charge you regardless of what waterway on which you are boating.


Under Minnesota law, operating a boat under the influence of marijuana is a crime. Because marijuana is considered a “controlled substance” by the state of Minnesota it is not legal to be under the influence while driving, even if you are driving a boat. You can be prosecuted under Minnesota law if you are operating a boat under the influence of marijuana and you are on a Minnesota waterway. The penalties can be just as harsh as a DWI or DUI.

It is also important to remember that Minnesota has an implied consent law. Thus, if you are operating any motorized vehicle you have already agreed to take a chemical test upon apprehension by a law enforcement officer. Failing to do so may result in license suspension and other serious penalties.


While spending a day out on the water and relaxing might seem harmless, you could face serious consequences in the legal world if you choose to do so while under the influence.

In Minnesota, being “under the influence” of any controlled substance – marijuana included – could lead to your arrest, fines, and criminal charges. In a state where summers are spent on any one of our over 10,000 lakes, the harshness of these laws strike many as unfair. If you have been charged with boating while intoxicated or boating under the influence, you need a strong criminal defense attorney to defend you. Contact Kohlmeyer Hagen Law Offices today for a consultation.

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