Arkansas's Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) Laws and Penalties

Read about the consequences—including fines and possible jail time—of boating while intoxicated (BWI) in Arkansas.

By , Attorney

Arkansas law prohibits operating or being in actual physical control of a motorboat while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol.

This article will cover Arkansas's boating while intoxicated laws and the penalties you'll face for a BWI conviction.

Arkansas's Boating Under the Influence Laws

A person can be convicted of boating while intoxicated (BWI) (also called "boating under the influence" or "BUI") for operating a motorboat while:

In other words, you can get a BWI for operating a boat with an excessive blood alcohol concentration or while drunk or high on drugs.

How Does Arkansas Define "Impaired"?

For purposes of Arkansas's BWI laws, a boat operator is considered impaired if his or her "reactions, motor skills, and judgment are substantially altered and the driver, therefore, constitutes a clear and substantial danger of physical injury or death to himself or herself or another person."

What Kinds of Boats Do Arkansas's BWI Laws Apply to?

Arkansas's BWI laws apply to "motorboats." The term "motorboat" means "any vessel operated upon water and that is propelled by machinery, whether or not the machinery is the principal source of propulsion."

Jail, Fines, and Suspensions for Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) in Arkansas

The consequences of an Arkansas BWI depend on the circumstances. But generally, a BWI is an "unclassified" misdemeanor, and the possible penalties depend on how many prior convictions the person has. For purposes of determining whether a BUI is a second or subsequent offense, only prior BUI convictions that occurred within the past five years count.

Penalties for a First Boating While Intoxicated Offense in Arkansas

A first-offense BWI generally carries:

  • one day to one year in jail,
  • $100 to $1,000 in fines, and
  • a six-month driver's license suspension.

If, however, the convicted boater had a passenger under the age of 16, the minimum jail time is seven days. Instead of jail, a judge can order an offender to do public service.

Penalties for a Second Boating While Intoxicated Offense in Arkansas

A second-offense BWI generally carries:

  • seven days to one year in jail,
  • $400 to $3,000 in fines, and
  • a 24-month driver's license suspension.

If, however, the convicted boater had a passenger under the age of 16, the minimum jail time is 30 days. Instead of jail, a judge can order an offender to do public service for a minimum of 30 days (60 days if there was a passenger under 16 years old).

Penalties for a Third Boating While Intoxicated Offense in Arkansas

A third-offense BWI generally carries:

  • 90 days to one year in jail,
  • $900 to $5,000 in fines, and
  • a 30-month driver's license suspension.

If, however, the convicted boater had a passenger under the age of 16, the minimum jail time is 120 days. Instead of jail, a judge can order an offender to do public service for a minimum of 90 days (120 days if there was a passenger under 16 years old).

Arkansas's Alcohol Education Program

In addition to the other penalties, all BWI offenders generally must complete an alcohol education program.

Talk to an Arkansas DWI Attorney

If you've been arrested for or charged with boating under the influence in Arkansas, get in contact with an experienced DWI attorney. The facts of every case are different. A good DWI 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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