Boaters should take extra precautions during the cold-water season when more than 30 percent of Minnesota’s boating fatalities occur.
Before hitting the water for the first time this spring, boaters should ensure their boats, equipment and safety items are in legal and proper working order, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.
They should also review regulations and laws for the 2018 boating season.
Boating While Impaired (BWI) in Minnesota
Operating a motorboat while under the influence of alcohol is illegal. Drivers who are impaired may be required to take tests by an enforcement officer to determine the presence of substances.
There is a penalty for refusal
BWI convictions and refusals are recorded on the violator’s driver’s license record. Those who refuse testing are subject to separate and more severe criminal charges and immediately lose their motorboat operating privileges for one year.
The alcohol concentration for impaired operation is .08.
First time violators (no prior DWIs of any kind) who are convicted are subject to:
- Up to a $1,000 fine plus surcharges.
- Possible jail time.
- Loss of motorboat operating privileges for 90 days during the boating season, after conviction and written notification by the DNR
Cold water hazard
“With this year’s late ice-out, boaters are especially anxious to get on the water and start enjoying the boating season,” Lisa Dugan, DNR recreation safety outreach coordinator, said in a statement.
“After waiting all winter to get back on the water, no one wants to break down, get a ticket or have a safety emergency.”
In addition to making sure boats are equipped with required safety items, boaters should take extra precautions during the cold-water season, when more than 30 percent of Minnesota’s boating fatalities occur.
While children younger than 10 years old must wear life jackets while aboard watercraft that are underway (not tied to a dock or anchored for swimming), boat and water safety officials recommend all boaters wear life jackets anytime they’re on cold water, no matter their age.
“Wearing a life jacket is an important part of staying safe when the water is cold during the spring,” Dugan said.
“In the event of an unexpected fall or capsizing, having a life jacket on can make all the difference.”
Before the season’s first launch, boaters should verify their motorboats are equipped with the following:
- U.S. Coast Guard-approved wearable life jackets for each person on board.
- Type IV throwable flotation device on boats 16 feet or longer.
- Horn or whistle.
- Type B U.S. Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher.
- Navigation lights in working order.
- Valid boat registration, with numbers visible.
- Marine carbon monoxide detector in some boats.