Vermont’s Boating While Intoxicated Laws

Read about the consequences of boating while intoxicated (BWI) in Vermont.

Vermont law prohibits operating or being in actual physical control of a vessel while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. The term “vessel” includes “every description of watercraft, other than a seaplane on the water or a racing shell or rowing scull occupied exclusively by persons over 12 years of age, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.” (Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 3302 (2016).) A person can be convicted of boating while intoxicated (BWI) for operating a vessel while:

  • under the influence of drugs or alcohol “to a degree which renders the person incapable of operating safely,” or
  • having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater.

(Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 3323 (2016).)

BWI Penalties

The consequences of a Vermont BWI depend on the circumstances of the case. But generally, the consequences are:

  • First, second, and subsequent offenses. Most BWIs carry up to one year in jail. And first offenders face $200 to $750 in fines, while second and subsequent offenders will have to pay fines of $250 to $1,000.
  • BWI involving serious injury. A BWI involving “serious bodily injury” generally carries up to 15 years in prison and/or a maximum $5,000 in fines.
  • BWI involving death. A BWI involving death to another person carries one to 15 years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines.

Vermont law requires all BWI offenders to complete an eight-hour boating safety education course. And judges must suspend for one year the boat operating privileges of anyone convicted of a BWI.

(Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 3317 (2016).)

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

If you’ve been arrested for or charged with boating under the influence in Vermont, get in contact with an experienced BWI attorney. The facts of every case are different. A good BWI attorney should be able to explain how the law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide on your best course of action.

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