Law enforcement responded to a report of a boat accident in northern Minnesota Tuesday afternoon around 4:00 p.m. A woman apparently fell from the front of the boat. Authorities say that after she fell into the water the propeller struck her–she suffered injuries to her leg and shoulder. The woman needed surgery to repair a roughly foot-long cut on her thigh.
Investigators say that a man admitted that he had been driving the boat at the time of the crash. But, other witnesses claim that a different man was driving the boat, a 22-year-old who is believed to be the accident victim’s boyfriend.
The witnesses claim that the man who admitted to driving was on shore when the accident occurred. Authorities further claim that the man later said he was ashore as the witnesses had claimed.
While investigating the accident, police say that bottles were found in the vessel. Police say that the accident victim’s boyfriend was speaking “with a thick tongue” after his girlfriend was injured, according to The Bemidji Pioneer.
The probe became an investigation into whether the boyfriend, a Denver resident, had been boating while impaired. Police claim that the man later measured 0.099 in a chemical test for alcohol. He was booked into jail on suspicion of BWI.
A person does not have to be involved in a boating accident to face BWI charges in Minnesota. Like the more traditional driving while impaired charges in a motor vehicle, a BWI charge can lead to significant criminal penalties if a person is ultimately convicted of the offense (including potential time behind bars and significant fines). But boating cases may involve intricacies that differ from a drunk driving case in a car. A person accused of DWI may seek the assistance of legal counsel in defending against the allegations.
Source: The Bemidji Pioneer, “Colorado man charged in boat accident that injured girlfriend,” July 18, 2013