Open Bottles on the Open Water – Boating While Impaired on North Carolina Waterways

Planning on taking a trip out on your local lake or ocean? Did you know that a North Carolina DWI can occur on the open waters?

North Carolina has ramped up its efforts this summer to set up DWI checkpoints throughout its local waterways. According to the News and Observer, busy summer weekends will result in an increase of law enforcement checking for DWI’s throughout North Carolina’s popular boating areas. This will be the fourth year of the state’s crackdown on DWIs that occur on boats and is be headed up by the N.C. State Highway Patrol as well as members of the Wildlife Resources Commission.

While those that are passengers on a boat may consume alcohol the same does not apply to the person operating the vehicle. According G.S 75A-10(b1), in the State of North Carolina the driver of a vessel can be charged with a DWI if they are under the influence of an impairing substance, or have consumed sufficient alcohol to register a BAC of 0.08 or more. You may also be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor DWI if you are impaired while operating water skis, surfboard, and other non motorized water vessels.

Unlike a North Carolina DWI in a car, boating while impaired is not an implied consent offense. If you are pulled for a DWI while on the water you are allowed to decline testing and do not automatically face license suspension. This means that if you are charged with a DWI while on the water you can decline a breathalyzer test and in order to be subjected to one an actual warrant would have to be issued.

The occurrence of DWI offenses throughout rivers, lakes, and oceans are quite common. Law and evidence surrounding such cases can be complex and a lawyer familiar with North Carolina DWI’s can help you achieve a successful outcome. Your rights from the Fourth Amendment do come into play because this is not an implied consent offense. A lawyer will be able to help maintain your rights and determine whether or not you were informed of them during your DWI on the water. Witnesses and the actual arrest procedure as well as any testing that may have been done prior will all be collected in order to question whether or not it was consented.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.