The Handbook of Iowa Boating Laws and Responsibilities
The Official Boating Handbook of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources - Web Version
Table of Contents
Iowa law prohibits anyone from boating while intoxicated (BWI). This includes the operation of any vessel or manipulation of any water skis, surfboard, or similar device while under the influence of alcohol; marijuana; a narcotic, hypnotic, or other drug; or any combination of these substances. Alcohol and drugs cause impaired balance, blurred vision, poor coordination, impaired judgment, and slower reaction time.
Iowa law states that a person is considered to be boating while intoxicated (BWI) if he or she:
- Is under the influence of alcohol or other drug or a combination of such substances or…
- Has a blood, breath, or urine alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more or…
- Has any amount of a controlled substance present in his or her person, as measured in blood or urine.
Iowa law establishes the following penalties for BWI.
- Upon a first conviction, a person may be fined up to $1,000, jailed for at least 48 hours, and prohibited from operating a vessel for one year.
- Upon a second conviction, a person may be fined up to $5,000, jailed for at least 7 days, and prohibited from operating a vessel for two years.
- Upon the third and subsequent convictions, a person may be fined up to $7,500, jailed for up to one year, and prohibited from operating a vessel for six years.
- In addition, persons convicted of BWI will be assigned to substance abuse evaluation/treatment and must attend a course for drinking drivers.
- Persons convicted of BWI who caused the death or injury of someone will receive severe penalties in addition to those above.
By operating a vessel on Iowa waters, you have given “implied” consent to alcohol testing. For a first offense of refusing to be tested, you can be fined up to $500 and lose your operating privileges for up to one year.