Different Standard With BWI Charges

When the weather is warm, there is no better way to spend a day than out on the water. During the spring, summer and fall, Charlotte area residents and visitors frequent Lake Norman, Lake Wylie, Mountain Island Lake, Lake Hickory and nearby rivers.

Unfortunately, a day of fun can quickly turn into a nightmare if law enforcement officers believe that excess alcohol was consumed while out on the boat. In North Carolina, those charged with boating while impaired (BWI) can face consequences that are just as serious as for driving while impaired (DWI).

If you have been charged with BWI, speak to one of our attorneys at 704-286-6942 so we can begin aggressively defending your rights. Errors caught early could greatly help your defense.

Do You Need To Be On A Motorboat To Be Charged?

No. It is important to understand that you do not have to operate a motorboat to be cited for BWI. In fact, if the object floats (canoe, water skis, rowboat, etc.) and you are the operator or the one in control of it, you can be charged with BWI.

It is a Class 2 misdemeanor and can carry up to 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. The collateral consequences of a conviction can include damage to your reputation, loss of your job and an increase in or loss of your insurance coverage.

Differences Between BWI And DWI Cases

A major difference between boating while impaired and driving while impaired is that law enforcement officers, whether from the North Carolina Wildlife Commission, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department or Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Department, do not need probable cause (belief that a crime has been or will be committed) to stop a boat or other water vessel. Instead, law enforcement can stop a vessel or boat under the guise of a "safety check."

  • Another important difference between boating while impaired and driving while impaired is that you do not have to submit to a breath test or field sobriety tests when stopped for BWI. Unlike DWI, BWI is not an "implied consent" law and refusal of any tests does not subject you to a civil revocation .
  • In cases of boating while impaired, the Intoxilyzer, Intox EC/IR-II or other breath machine can be attacked more often as it is not given the same weight. As a result, a dismissal or a reduction of the charges may be possible given the facts of the case.

Don't Make A Statement Until You Talk To Us

Hire a skilled and knowledgeable defense lawyer if you or a loved one has been charged. We are here to provide you the skilled defense representation you need. Send us a message or call 704-286-6942 or toll free 800-565-1435 for a free initial consultation.