Since we’re right in the middle of summer, I know that a lot of folks will be out and about on the lakes and waterways of our great State. And with that, I also know that many of you will be imbibing in alcohol during these activities. So, to answer the question I get asked several times each summer: “Will a conviction for BWI (Boating While Impaired) cause me to lose my license to drive a car?” The answer is no.
However, BWI is still a crime and as such is a class 1 misdemeanor. This could affect other areas of your life.
Another interesting aspect of the crime is that you can refuse to blow in the big machine with no consequences. It’s not an implied consent crime. Why give the State a number if you don’t have to? With no number, and for those of you that follow my television Commerical and C.A.R.E. (When Confronted be nice; Avoid answering any questions; Refuse all roadside or in this case boat side tests; and Exercise your right to hire an attorney) you put yourself at much less risk of conviction.
That being said, it’s much easier for Wildlife to stop your boat. All they need to do is say that they are doing a safety check. There is no Reasonable Articulable Suspicion standard for them to stop you. They can just do it.
So, be safe on the water and don’t drink and boat to excess. For those statistics freaks out there remember that North Carolina ranks 7th nationally for boating accidents and boating injuries and according to the Coast Guard’s 2011 Recreational Boating Statistics Report, alcohol was the leading factor in 16 percent of the deaths in 2011. For more on BWI see my other site here.