Missouri's Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) Laws

Read about Missouri’s boating under the influence (BUI) laws, including some of the possible penalties of a conviction.

Missouri law prohibits operating a vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In Missouri, there are two types of boating under the influence:

  • boating while intoxicated—meaning actually impaired—by alcohol or drugs (impairment BWI), and
  • boating with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater (called “boating with an excessive blood alcohol concentration,” or “per se BWI”).

(Mo. Ann. Stat. §§ 577.013, 577.014 (2017); State v. Honsinger, 386 S.W.3d 827 (2012).)

Categories of BWI Offenders

For sentencing purposes, Missouri law categorizes BWI offenders as follows:

  • Standard first offender. BWI offenders who have no prior BWI convictions or only one prior conviction that occurred more than five years ago where no one was injured or killed.
  • Prior boating offender. BWI offenders who have one prior BWI conviction within the past five years.
  • Persistent boating offender. BWI offenders who have:
    • two prior BWI convictions, or
    • one prior BWI conviction where another person was injured or killed.
  • Aggravated boating offender. BWI offenders who have:
    • three prior BWI convictions, or
    • two prior BWI convictions, where one of the priors involved injuries or a fatality.
  • Chronic boating offender. BWI offenders who have:
    • four prior BWI convictions
    • three prior BWI convictions, where one of the priors involved injuries or a fatality, or
    • two prior BWI convictions, where both priors involved injuries or a fatality.
  • Habitual boating offender. BWI offenders who:
    • have five or more prior BWI convictions
    • have four prior BWI convictions, where one of the priors involved injuries or a fatality
    • have three prior BWI convictions, where two of the priors involved injuries or a fatality, or
    • while boating under the influence, acted with criminal negligence and caused the death of another person.

(Mo. Ann. Stat. §§ 577.001, 577.013, 577.014 (2017).)

BWI Penalties

BWI penalties depend on the circumstances but might include fines, jail time, continuous alcohol monitoring, and having to complete alcohol and drug treatment. For example, a first-offense BWI is a class B misdemeanor and carries up to six months in jail and a maximum $1,000 in fines. And in certain situations, a judge can order a first offender to participate in substance abuse treatment and alcohol monitoring. (Mo. Ann. Stat. §§ 558.002, 558.011, 577.013 (2017).)

See our Missouri BWI penalties article for a more complete discussion of penalties.

HOW MUCH TIME WOULD YOU ACTUALLY SPEND IN JAIL?

Sentencing law is complex. For example, a statute might list a “minimum” jail sentence that’s longer than the actual amount of time (if any) a defendant will have to spend behind bars. All kinds of factors can affect actual punishment, including credits for good in-custody behavior and jail-alternative work programs.

If you face criminal charges, consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney with command of the rules in your jurisdiction will be able to explain the law as it applies to your situation.

Talk to an Attorney

The consequences of boating under the influence in Missouri are serious, and the facts of every case are different. If you’ve been arrested for a BWI, get in touch with an experienced defense attorney. A qualified BWI attorney can explain how the law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide on the best course of action.

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