Indiana’s Boating While Intoxicated Laws

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

Indiana law prohibits operating a motorboat while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. The term “motorboat” includes jet skis and sailboats that are using a motor or engine. (Ind. Code Ann. § 35-46-9-3 (2016).) A person can be convicted of boating while intoxicated (BWI) for operating a motorboat while:

  • under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or any other intoxicating substance “so that there is an impaired condition of thought and action and the loss of normal control of an individual’s faculties”
  • having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater, or
  • having any amount of a controlled substance in the body.

(Ind. Code Ann. § § 35-46-9-2, 35-46-9-6 (2016).)

BWI Penalties

The consequences of an Indiana BWI depend on the circumstances of the case. But generally, the consequences are:

  • First offense. Most first-offense BUIs are class C misdemeanors and carry up to 60 days in jail and a maximum of $500 in fines.
  • Repeat offense. When a BUI offender has at least one prior BUI conviction, the judge generally can sentence the current BUI as a class A misdemeanor or level 6 felony. Class A misdemeanors carry up to a year in jail and a maximum of $5,000 in fines. And level 6 felonies carry between six months and two and one-half years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • BWI involving serious injury. Where a BWI involves serious bodily injury to another, the judge can sentence the offense as a class A misdemeanor or level 6 felony (see “repeat offense” above).
  • BWI involving death. A BWI involving death to another person is a level 5 felony and generally carries between one and six years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

(Ind. Code Ann. § 35-46-9-6 (2016).)


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 Indiana, 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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