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Call Us Today:
(952) 913-1421

BWI, SWI and AWI Defense

You may be surprised to know that DUI and DWI laws apply not only to motor vehicles and to those on the marked public roads, but also to boats, snowmobiles and ATVs as well as the waters, trails and snow/ice. You can also be arrested and convicted for boating while intoxicated (BWI), snowmobiling while intoxicated (SWI) and ATV-ing while intoxicated (AWI). The reason? The dangers are not limited to the wheel of a car; the legislature believes you are still endangering the lives of others as well as your own life by mixing drinking and driving. If you have been arrested for BWI, SWI or AWI, then contact our drinking and driving attorney right away.


Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, many of which come with excellent opportunities to tan, boat and enjoy a few beers at the same time. Furthermore, during those cold winter months, there is nothing better than taking a ride up a snow-capped hill with a bottle of rum to keep you warm. However, there’s a cold harsh reality: if you are caught with an alcohol content level of .08 or higher, you could be convicted of a drinking while intoxicated offense even though you were on a snowmobile, not in your car.

It may not seem like a big deal if you are caught with a couple beers in your boat, but it actually is. For one, you could be looking at a license revocation and possible driver’s education courses. Even if this is your first offense, you could still be charged with a misdemeanor offense including up to 90 days in prison and a $1,000 fine. You will also most likely lose your boating license for 90 days (in season). What this means is that if you are arrested for boating while intoxicated in August, you will not be able to operate your boat again for 90 days starting the next summer season.

Keep in mind that BWI, AWI and SWI arrests can happen to anyone, including those under the age of 21. However, those under the legal drinking limit operate on the “Not a Drop Law:” if you are under the legal drinking age and found with any alcohol in your system (while on your recreational vehicle), you face serious consequences.

BWI Aggravating Factors

Boating and snowmobiling while intoxicated also come with similar aggravating factors as a DWI arrest. If you are found with one or more aggravating factors, you could be looking at a third-, second- or first-degree BWI offense:

  • Operating a boat/ATV/snowmobile with an alcohol concentration of .20 or more
  • A prior conviction or implied consent driver’s license revocation for DWI or test refusal in the 10 years
  • A passenger under age 16 on the boat/ATV/snowmobile at the time of the offense

Many parents combine their love of the water with a cocktail or two. However, if you are caught enjoying a drink while your children are water skiing behind the boat, then you are looking at a gross misdemeanor DWI charge for which you can get up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

If you are caught with an alcohol concentration level of .08 or higher anywhere in Minnesota while operating any type of recreational vehicle, from a boat to a bus, from a golf cart to a snowmobile, then you could be convicted under the DWI laws. It does not matter if you are on or off the road, or if you’re on a lake, river, ice, snow or anywhere else.

Arrested? We’re Available 24/7

Only a professional and highly skilled DWI defense lawyer can make sure your case is properly addressed and handled efficiently. Our drunk driving attorney will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your arrest and the arresting officer, interview any important eyewitnesses, handle all court appearances and documents, and guide you through the criminal justice system to your freedom and peace of mind. If you have questions regarding your BWI charges, potential penalties and risks or strategies for defending your rights, call our law office at 952) 913-1421 or use our online contact form. You have rights – we protect them.

Our Minneapolis DWI lawyer represents clients charged in criminal matters throughout the Twin Cities metro area and throughout the entire state of Minnesota, including Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Scott County, Dakota County, Washington County and Sherburne County. We also represent clients throughout Anoka, Andover, Apple Valley, Blaine, Bloomington, Burnsville, Champlin, Chaska, Coon Rapids, Eagan, Edina, Eden Prairie, Lino Lakes, Lakeville, Maple Grove, Maplewood, Minnetonka, Minneapolis, Plymouth, Richfield, Robbinsdale, Roseville, Woodbury and White Bear Lake.

Get legal advice from Max Keller