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You can get an OWI for drunkenly operating a motorboat

Like most other U.S. states, Indiana prohibits driving while under the influence of alcohol or an intoxicating substance. Drivers caught violating the law face an operating while intoxicated (OWI) charge, which can lead to penalties on conviction.

But Indiana also has laws that prohibit persons from operating motorboats while inebriated. The state is strict regarding enforcing the laws, and anyone convicted of breaking the rules can expect fines and jail time.

Operating a motorboat while intoxicated

According to state law, a person can face an OWI charge for using a motorboat while drunk. Much like an OWI for automobiles, the operator must meet specific criteria before an officer can charge them with an OWI. These criteria include:

  • A blood or breath alcohol content level of .08% per 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath.
  • Presence of a Schedule I or II controlled substance in the body, confirmed by a chemical test.
  • Visible intoxication.

This offense is a Class C misdemeanor. However, the offense becomes a Level 6 felony if the person has a previous conviction for the same offense or their offense resulted in another person suffering serious bodily injury. The offense can further upgrade to a Level 5 felony if the offense led to the death or catastrophic injury of another.

Penalties for motorboat OWI

The following are the penalties on conviction for motorboat OWI, corresponding to the appropriate criminal grades:

  • Class C misdemeanor: Up to 60 days in jail and $500 in fines.
  • Level 6 felony: Up to 2.5 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
  • Level 5 felony: Up to 6 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

A court may also seek to sentence the person as a habitual offender if they have three prior convictions for unrelated felonies.

Operating a motorboat while drunk is just as dangerous as driving a car while inebriated – and just as illegal, too. Even if a drunk person didn’t injure anyone, a conviction for a second or subsequent offense leads to years of imprisonment and tens of thousands of dollars in fines. There are serious consequences for such reckless behavior, but those accused may yet be able to make their case in court.