Boating and Alcohol: The Laws
According to Michigan’s boating and alcohol laws, it is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances, or to knowingly allow any person to operate a boat who is under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.
In Michigan, a person is considered to be under the influence if:
- They have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 or higher.
In Michigan, a person convicted of operating a boat while under the influence will be subject to the following penalties:
- Any person convicted of boating under the influence will be guilty of a misdemeanor. However, if they are convicted for a 3rd time within 10 years, they will be guilty of a felony.
- If the death of a person results from a boat accident caused by an operator who was boating under the influence, they will be guilty of a felony and will be subject to a fine from $2,500 – $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 15 years.
- If an operator causes serious bodily injury or impairment as a result of operating under the influence, they will be guilty of a felony and will be subject to imprisonment for up to 5 years and/or a fine from $1,000-$5,000.
Any person operating a boat on Michigan waters is deemed to have given consent to a test or tests to determine if they are impaired by drugs and/or alcohol.
Michigan’s Law Enforcement Authority
Michigan’s boating laws are enforced by:
- Michigan Department of Natural Resources law enforcement Division.
- County Sheriff’s Department.
- The Coast Guard.
- Other authorized law enforcement (on federal waters).
Law enforcement in the state of Michigan have the authority to stop and board boats to ensure that they are in compliance with state and federal laws. Refusing to follow direction provided by law enforcement is illegal. Officers will give visual or audible signals when requesting an operator to stop their boat.