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Indiana Natural Resources Commission

NRC > Lake Michigan & Other Navigable Waters > Indiana Boating Laws > State Criminal Penalties State Criminal Penalties

Boating While Intoxicated

One of the most serious violations of Indiana boating laws is "operating a motorboat while intoxicated"--more commonly referred to as "boating while intoxicated" or "BWI". General statutory provisions concerning BWI are set forth at IC 14-15-8.

The first offense for BWI is a Class C misdemeanor, the maximum penalty for which is 60 days imprisonment and a fine of $500, to be accompanied by an order the person not operate a motorboat for at least one year. For the second offense of BWI, or where serious bodily injury result to another person, the penalty is a Class D felony punishable by as many as three years in prison with aggravating circumstances, and a maximum fine of $10,000. BWI resulting in the death of another person is a Class C felony, with as many as eight years in prison with aggravating circumstances, and a $10,000 fine.

As with drunk driving, prima facie evidence of intoxication is established by a blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of 0.08. Also similarly to drunk driving, a court can recommend to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles that a person's motor vehicle driving privileges be suspended for a BWI conviction. For more information concerning the suspension of driving privileges, see IC 9-30-5-10. Points are assessed by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles against a driver's license for BWI. Currently, as provided by 140 IAC 1-4.5-10, eight points are assessed for BWI.

Other Criminal Penalties

The violation of most boating operation requirements, boating equipment requirements, and boating rules is a Class C infraction. The maximum judgment for each Class C infraction is $500 plus costs. However, dangerous operation of a boat, and most registration violations, are Class C misdemeanors for which imprisonment of 60 days may accompany a maximum $500 fine.

A person who operates a motorboat on public waters while the person's Indiana driver's license is suspended or revoked commits a Class A infraction. The maximum judgment for a Class A infraction is $10,000 plus costs. If the violation was knowing or intentional, and resulted from a suspension or revocation that occurred within ten years, the offense is raised to a Class A misdemeanor. Also, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if the suspension or revocation was itself the result of a felony or misdemeanor, and in addition to any fine or costs, a person convicted must serve a minimum imprisonment of 60 days.