Just as a person can face charges for driving while intoxicated in a vehicle, boating while intoxicated is also illegal in Missouri. If a person is found to be operating a motorized watercraft with a blood-alcohol concentration higher than .08 percent, they could be charged for “drunk boating.” Much like felony DWI violations, BWI charges can also be considered a felony if a person has been convicted multiple times.
Although some readers in St. Louis may not have known about these laws, renowned activist Erin Brokovich recently became aware of the laws and is facing charges. According to reports, Brokovich — who was the subject of a popular film — was spotted by police while operating a boat with a blood-alcohol level more than double the legal limit.
After being arrested, Brokovich made a public statement. She apologized for her behavior, but also noted that she didn’t use the boat in “open waters.” Rather, the boat stayed in its slip, so no one was put in harm’s way. Not only could thec apology become an important aspect of the case, but it may also be critical to raise the context of the incident.
Since Brokovich acknowledged she operated the boat after drinking, it may be difficult to build a case for a not guilty plea. However, knowing that Brokovich appears to be cooperative and didn’t put anyone in harms way could impact how the charges and potential pentalties shake out.
As the summer rolls on, Missouri residents should be aware of drinking and boating laws. On a hot day, when many people are on the water, the risk of being caught on drunk boating charges — perhaps involving a serious injury — might be higher. If the situation is serious, then felony charges could be brought by authorities.
Source: Associated Press, “Erin Brockovich Arrested While Boating in Nevada,” June 9, 2013