The Handbook of Missouri Boating Laws and Responsibilities
The Official Boating Handbook of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Water Patrol Division - Web Version
Table of Contents
Missouri law prohibits boating while intoxicated (BWI)—that is, operating a vessel while intoxicated due to alcohol or any combination of alcohol, controlled substances, or drugs.
Missouri’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for BWI has been lowered from 0.10% to 0.08%.
Missouri law states that it is evidence of intoxication if a person has a concentration of alcohol in his/her blood of 0.08% or more, based upon a chemical analysis of breath, blood, or saliva.
Missouri law establishes the following penalties.
- Those convicted of boating while intoxicated are guilty of a Class B misdemeanor upon a first conviction. In addition, those convicted will be required to complete and pass an approved boating safety course.
- Upon a second conviction, a person is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
- Upon a third or subsequent conviction, a person will be guilty of a Class D felony.
- A person boating while intoxicated who causes the death or serious injury of another person will, upon conviction, be guilty of a felony.
By operating a vessel on Missouri waters, you have consented to be tested for alcohol or drugs if so requested by a law enforcement official. If you refuse to be tested, you will be subject to arrest and punishment consistent with the penalties described above.
Possession or use of drinking devices for the rapid consumption of large amounts of alcohol, commonly referred to as “beer bongs,” along with four-gallon containers which hold any alcoholic beverage are prohibited on the state’s rivers except the Mississippi, Missouri, and Osage Rivers.
Driving While Intoxicated
Missouri’s laws affecting boating while intoxicated are referred to as BWI. But don’t forget, Missouri also has laws affecting driving while intoxicated—DWI. Missouri’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for DWI is 0.08%. Although any level of impairment may result in charges of DWI, a BAC level of 0.08% or above is prima facie evidence of intoxication under Missouri law.
If you are arrested for driving while intoxicated:
- You will be searched, handcuffed, taken to jail, photographed, fingerprinted, and bonded.
- You will have to give your license to the arresting officer and it will be suspended for 30 days.
If you are convicted of DWI, the following will apply.
- Eight points will be assessed to your license. Your license will be revoked for one year if you have accumulated a total of:
- 12 points in a 12-month period or…
- 18 points in a 24-month period or…
- 24 points in a 36-month period.
- Twelve points will be assessed for a second or subsequent conviction of an alcohol-related offense, and the penalties are much stronger (5 days in jail or 30 days of community service for a second offense; 10 days in jail or 60 days of community service for a 3rd or subsequent offense).
Effects of Alcohol When Driving
Reaction Time: Impairment can begin with a BAC level as low as 0.04%.
Tracking: Driver weaves from one side of the road to the other or cannot follow the path of the road.
Vision: Effects include loss of ability to perceive details in an object in motion and loss of control of eye movement.
Comprehension: Perceiving hazards and/or processing information are affected.
Coordination: Motor skills are lessened.
Performance: Functions such as steering, braking, speed control, etc. are impaired.
Emergency response: Ability to respond to emergency situations is limited.
Financial Burden of DWI Conviction
The cost associated with a DWI conviction can be overwhelming. The following are agencies and people who must be dealt with and require a fee for the service provided.
- Towing: Your vehicle will have to be towed to a place of impoundment, and you’ll have to pay to get it out.
- Bail: You will have to pay a bail bondsman to get out of jail, or your family/friends will have to post bail for you.
- Attorney: If you decide to get an attorney, prepare to pay.
- Fines and court costs: The judge will issue the fine and associated court costs.
- Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program (SATOP): An assessment will be made of your drinking patterns, and you will be required to successfully complete a level of service; payment is your responsibility.
- Insurance: You’ll most likely have to carry high-risk insurance; high risk usually means high dollar!
- License reinstatement: You will have to file an SR22 insurance form with the State Department of Revenue and pay a reinstatement fee if you want to drive again.
Average minimum total cost of above services = $4,500
If you were lucky, that’s all there would be to it. But what about the social ramifications?
Embarrassment: How will you feel about being handcuffed and hauled away in a patrol car?
Burden on your family and friends: You’re going to have to get somebody to chauffeur you everywhere and explain to your kids why you can’t drive.
Employment: What will you do if you are required to drive as a part of your job? What if you lose your job?
Remorse: What if you have to go to jail? Worst of all, what if you hurt or kill someone?
So think about it…
Drinking + Driving/Boating = Illegal, Inappropriate, and Costly
Is it worth the risk?