There’s been a recent uptick in arrests for boating under the influence on Minnesota waters.  Here’s what you need to know.

It is a crime to operate or be in physical control of a motorboat in operation on any waters or boundary waters of Minnesota when:

  1. the person is under the influence of alcohol;
  2. the person is under the influence of a controlled substance;
  3. the person is under the influence of an intoxicating substance and the person knows or has reason to know that the substance has the capacity to cause impairment;
  4. the person is under the influence of a combination of any two or more of the elements named in clauses (1) to (3);
  5. the person’s alcohol concentration at the time, or as measured within two hours of the time, of driving, operating, or being in physical control of the motorboat is 0.08 or more;
  6. the person’s body contains any amount of a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or II, or its metabolite, other than marijuana or terahydroccabinols.

Minn. Stat. 169A.20 Subd. 1(a)

beer and a boat

     What is physical control? Physical control is more comprehensive than “operate” or “drive.” Minnesota case law determined that for a person to be in physical control of a vehicle, they must have the means to initiate any movement of the vehicle, and they are in close proximity to the operating controls of the vehicle.  However, mere presence in or about the vehicle is not enough to demonstrate physical control, rather it is the overall situation that is determinative.

     Motor boat in operation? Motor boat in operation does not include a motorboat that is anchored, beached, or securely fastened to a dock or other permanent mooring or a motorboat that is being rowed or propelled by other than mechanical means.  See Minn. Stat. 609A.03.

     Under the influence? According to Minnesota case law, a person is “under the influence” when a person does not “possess that clearness of intellect and control of himself that he otherwise would have.”  The State must prove that the “driver had drunk enough alcohol so that the driver’s ability or capacity to drive was impaired in some way or to some degree.”  Thus, some individuals can have a blood alcohol content well below .08 and still be “under the influence.”

     Intoxicating substance? An intoxicating substance means a drug or chemical that when introduced into the human body impairs the central nervous system or impairs human audio, visual, or mental process.  The term does not include alcohol or controlled substances. See  Minn. Stat. 169A.03. 

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