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

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

By , Attorney

Vermont has laws that make it illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This article covers Vermont's restriction on boating while intoxicated (BWI) and the penalties you'll face for a BWI conviction.

Vermont's Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) Law

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

A person can be convicted of boating while intoxicated (BWI) for operating a vessel while:

In other words, a BWI can be based on BAC or actual impairment.

Vermont's BWI Restrictions Apply to Motorized and Non-Motorized Boats and Vessels

Under Vermont's BWI law, 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." So you can theoretically get a BWI while operating non-motorized vessels such as rowboats, sailboats, and canoes.

Penalties for Boating While Intoxicated in Vermont

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 injuries. A BWI involving "serious bodily injury" generally carries up to 15 years in prison and/or a maximum $5,000 in fines.
  • BWI involving deaths. 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.

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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