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What Are The Penalties For Operating A Motorboat Under The Influence Of Alcohol Or Drugs In Michigan?

 

The State of Michigan has tough penalties for operating a motor vehicle on its roads and highways while intoxicated from alcohol or drugs.  This hard stance also extends to operating a motorboat on any of Michigan’s open waters while under the influence.  The pertinent definitions are:

  • “Operate” means “to be in control of a vessel propelled wholly or in part by machinery while the vessel is underway and is not docked, at anchor, idle, or otherwise secured.” MCL 324.80176(8).
  • “Motorboat” means “a vessel propelled wholly or in part by machinery.” MCL 324.80103(f).  This definition excludes rowboats and canoes.
  • “Waters of this state” means “any waters within the territorial limits of this state, and includes those waters of the Great Lakes that are under the jurisdiction of this state.” MCL 324.80104(t).

Here are the criminal statutes in Michigan that punish DUI behavior while boating under the Marine Safety Act:

 

OPERATING A MOTORBOAT WHILE INTOXICATED (MCL 324.80176(1))

A person shall not operate a motorboat on the waters of this state if ANY of the following apply:

  • The person is under the influence of alcoholic liquor or a controlled substance, or both. MCL 324.80176(1)(a).
  • The person has a blood alcohol content of 0.08 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood, per 210 liters of breath, or per 67 milliliters of urine. MCL 324.81076(1)(b).
  • The person has in his or her body any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance (e.g. heroin) or a controlled substance derived from coca leaves (e.g. cocaine). MCL 324.81076(1)(c).

The penalties for operating a motorboat while intoxicated are as follows:

  • For a first violation, a misdemeanor conviction pursuant to MCL 324.80177(1)(a) punishable by:
    • A fine between $100.00 and $500.00
    • Up to 93 days in jail
    • Up to 45 days of community service
    • Court may order person not operate a motorboat on the waters of this state for not less than 1 year or more than 2 years. MCL 324.80186(b)(i).  There is no hardship appeal.
  • For a violation occurring within 7 years of a prior violation, a misdemeanor conviction pursuant to MCL 324.80177(1)(b) punishable by:
    • A fine between $200.00 and $1,000.00
    • Jail for not less than 48 hours but up to 1 year.
    • Up to 90 days of community service.
    • Court shall order that that the person not operate a motorboat on the waters of this state for not less than 2 years. MCL 324.80186(b)(ii).  There is no hardship appeal.
  • For a violation occurring after two prior violations no matter how much time has lapsed, a felony conviction pursuant to MCL 324.80177(1)(c) punishable by:
    • A fine between $500.00 and $5,000.00.
    • Imprisonment between 1 year and 5 years.
    • If the prior convictions were in the last 10 years, court shall order with no expiration date that the person not operate a motorboat on the waters of this state. MCL 324.80186(b)(iii).  A person may appeal this order after a minimum of one or five years.

 

OPERATING A MOTORBOAT WHILE VISIBLY IMPAIRED (MCL 324.81076(3))

A person shall not operate a motorboat on the waters of this state when, due to the consumption of an alcoholic liquor or a controlled substance, or both, the person’s ability to operate the motorboat is visibly impaired.  If that person is under the influence of alcoholic liquor or a controlled substance, or has a blood alcohol content of 0.08 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood, per 210 liters of breath, or per 67 milliliters of urine, or has any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance or a controlled substance derived from coca leaves in his or her body, then he or she may be found guilty of this offense.

The penalties for operating a motorboat while visibly impaired are as follows:

  • For a first offense, a misdemeanor conviction pursuant to MCL 324.80178(1)(a) punishable by:
    • A fine up to $300.00.
    • Up to 93 days in jail.
    • Up to 45 days of community service.
    • Court may order that the person not operate a motorboat on the waters of this state for not less than 6 months or more than 1 year. MCL 324.80186(c)(i).  There is no hardship appeal.
  • For a violation occurring within 7 years of a prior violation, a misdemeanor conviction pursuant to MCL 324.80178(1)(b) punishable by:
    • A fine between $200.00 and $1,000.00
    • Up to 1 year in jail
    • Up to 90 days of community service.
    • Court shall order that the person not operate a motorboat on the waters of this state for not less than 1 year or more than 2 years. MCL 324.80186(c)(ii).  There is no hardship appeal.
  • For a violation occurring after two prior violations no matter how much time has lapsed, a misdemeanor conviction pursuant to MCL 324.80178(1)(c) punishable by:
    • A fine between $100.00 and $1,000.00.
    • Up to 1 year in jail.
    • Between 10 days and 90 days of community service.
    • If the prior convictions were in the last 10 years, court shall order with no expiration date that the person not operate a motorboat on the waters of this state. MCL 324.80186(b)(iii).  A person may appeal this order after a minimum of one or five years.

 

OPERATING A MOTORBOAT WHILE INTOXICATED OR IMPAIRED CAUSING SERIOUS IMPAIRMENT OF A BODY FUNCTION (MCL 324.81076(5))

A person who operates a motorboat on the waters of this state while ANY of the following:

  • The person is under the influence of alcoholic liquor or a controlled substance, or both. MCL 324.80176(1)(a).
  • The person has a blood alcohol content of 0.08 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood, per 210 liters of breath, or per 67 milliliters of urine. MCL 324.81076(1)(b).
  • The person has in his or her body any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance (e.g. heroin) or a controlled substance derived from coca leaves (e.g. cocaine). MCL 324.81076(1)(c).
  • The person’s ability to operate the motorboat is visibly impaired due to the consumption of an alcoholic liquor or a controlled substance, or both. MCL 324.81076(3).

AND causes a serious impairment of a body function of another person is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine between $1,000.00 and $5,000.00, or up to 5 years in state prison, or both.  “Serious impairment of a body function” includes, but is not limited to, 1 or more of the following pursuant to MCL 257.58c:

  • Loss of a limb or loss of use of a limb.
  • Loss of a foot, hand, finger, or thumb or loss of use of a foot, hand, finger, or thumb.
  • Loss of an eye or ear or loss of use of an eye or ear.
  • Loss or substantial impairment of a bodily function.
  • Serious visible disfigurement.
  • A comatose state that lasts for more than 3 days.
  • Measurable brain or mental impairment.
  • A skull fracture or other serious bone fracture.
  • Subdural hemorrhage or subdural hematoma.
  • Loss of an organ.

In addition, the court shall order with no expiration date that the person not operate a motorboat on the waters of this state.  MCL 324.80186(a).  A person may appeal this order after a minimum of one or five years.

 

OPERATING A MOTORBOAT WHILE INTOXICATED OR IMPAIRED CAUSING DEATH (MCL 324.81076(4))

A person who operates a motorboat on the waters of this state while ANY of the following:

  • The person is under the influence of alcoholic liquor or a controlled substance, or both. MCL 324.80176(1)(a).
  • The person has a blood alcohol content of 0.08 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood, per 210 liters of breath, or per 67 milliliters of urine. MCL 324.81076(1)(b).
  • The person has in his or her body any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance (e.g. heroin) or a controlled substance derived from coca leaves (e.g. cocaine). MCL 324.81076(1)(c).
  • The person’s ability to operate the motorboat is visibly impaired due to the consumption of an alcoholic liquor or a controlled substance, or both. MCL 324.81076(3).

AND causes the death of another person is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine between $2,500.00 and $10,000.00, or up to 15 years in state prison, or both.  In addition, the court shall order with no expiration date that the person not operate a motorboat on the waters of this state.  MCL 324.80186(a).  A person may appeal this order after a minimum of one or five years.

 

OPERATING A MOTORBOAT UNDER AGE 21 WITH ANY BODILY ALCOHOL CONTENT (“ZERO TOLERANCE”)(MCL 324.81076(6))

A person who is less than 21 years of age, whether licensed or not, shall not operate a motorboat on the waters of this state if the person has any bodily alcohol content. As used in this subsection, “any bodily alcohol content” means either of the following:

  • An alcohol content of 0.02 grams or more but less than 0.08 grams per 100 milliliters of blood, per 210 liters of breath, or per 67 milliliters of urine. MCL 324.81076(6)(a).
  • Any presence of alcohol within a person’s body resulting from the consumption of alcoholic liquor, other than consumption of alcoholic liquor as a part of a generally recognized religious service or ceremony. MCL 324.81076(6)(b).

The penalties for operating a motorboat under age 21 with any bodily alcohol content are:

  • For a first offense, a misdemeanor conviction pursuant to MCL 324.80178a(1)(a) punishable by:
    • A fine up to $250.00
    • Community service up to 360 hours.
  • For a violation occurring within 7 years of a prior violation, a misdemeanor conviction pursuant to MCL 324.80178a(1)(b) punishable by:
    • A fine up to $500.00
    • Up to 93 days in jail.
    • Up to 60 days of community service.

 

CHILD ENDANGERMENT WHILE OPERATING A MOTORBOAT (MCL 324.81076(7))

A person, whether licensed or not, shall not operate a motorboat while another person who is less than 16 years of age is occupying the boat while doing any of the following:

  • Operating a boat while intoxicated (MCL 324.80176(1))
  • Operating a boat while visibly impaired (MCL 324.80176(3))
  • Operating a boat while intoxicated or impaired causing serious impairment to a bodily function (MCL 324.80176(5))
  • Operating a boat while intoxicated or impaired causing death (MCL 324.80176(4))
  • Operating a boat under age 21 with any bodily alcohol content (MCL 324.80176(6))

The penalties for child endangerment while operating a motorboat while intoxicated, while visibly impaired, or while intoxicated or impaired causing serious impairment to a bodily function or death are as follows:

  • For a first offense, a misdemeanor conviction pursuant to MCL 324.80178b(1)(a) punishable by:
    • A fine between $200.00 and $1,000.00
    • Jail between 5 days and 1 year with at least 48 hours to be served consecutively.
    • Community service between 30 days and 90 days.
  • If the violation occurred within 7 years of a prior conviction OR after 2 or more prior convictions no matter how much time has lapsed, a felony conviction pursuant to MCL 324.80178b(1)(b) punishable by:
    • A fine between $500.00 and $5,000.00.
    • State prison between 1 to 5 years OR probation with 30 days to 1 year in jail and community service between 60 days and 180 days, with at least 48 hours of jail time served consecutively.

The penalties for child endangerment while operating a motorboat under age 21 with any bodily alcohol content are as follows:

  • For a first offense, a misdemeanor conviction pursuant to MCL 324.80178b(2)(a) punishable by:
    • A fine up to $500.00
    • Up to 93 days in jail
    • Community service up to 60 days
  • If the violation occurred within 7 years of a prior conviction OR after 2 or more prior convictions no matter how much time has lapsed, a felony conviction pursuant to MCL 324.80178b(2)(b) punishable by:
    • A fine between $200.00 and $1,000.00.
    • Between 5 days and 1 year in jail, with at least 48 hours served consecutively.
    • Community service between 30 days and 90 days.

 

AUTHORIZING ANOTHER PERSON TO OPERATE A MOTORBOAT WHILE INTOXICATED OR IMPAIRED (MCL 324.80176(2))

The owner of a motorboat or a person in charge or in control of a motorboat shall not authorize or knowingly permit the motorboat to be operated on the waters of this state by a person if any of the following apply:

  • The person is under the influence of alcoholic liquor or a controlled substance, or both. MCL 324.80176(2)(a).
  • The person has a blood alcohol content of 0.08 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood, per 210 liters of breath, or per 67 milliliters of urine. MCL 324.80176(2)(b).
  • The person’s ability to operate the motorboat is visibly impaired due to the consumption of alcoholic liquor, a controlled substance, or a combination of alcoholic liquor and a controlled substance. MCL 324.80176(2)(c).

The penalties for authorizing another person to operate a motorboat while intoxicated or impaired is a misdemeanor conviction punishable by a fine between $100.00 and $500.00 or up to 93 days in jail, or both.  MCL 324.80177(4).

 

IMPLIED CONSENT TO CHEMICAL TESTING

“A peace officer, without a warrant, may arrest a person if the peace officer has reasonable cause to believe that the person was, at the time of an accident, the operator of a vessel involved in the accident in this state” while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  MCL 324.80180(1).  A peace officer may also require, upon reasonable belief that a person was operating a motorboat on the waters of this state while impaired by alcohol consumption, that the person operating the motorboat submit to a preliminary chemical breath analysis.  MCL 324.80180(2).  This preliminary breath test is used to aid the peace officer in determining if there is enough probable cause to make an arrest.  Failure to submit to this preliminary chemical breath analysis upon a lawful request by a peace officer makes the person responsible for a state civil infraction and may be ordered to pay a civil fine of not more than $500.00.  MCL 324.80180(2)(e).  Despite the fine, it may be prudent to refuse this preliminary breath test if it leads to damaging evidence to be used against you at trial.

If the person is arrested for operating a motorcraft under the influence, the peace officer can require that person to submit to a formal chemical test of that person’s blood, urine or breath (e.g. blood draw or using the DMT Datamaster breathalyzer test).  MCL 324.80181(1)(a).  Under Michigan’s implied consent law, a person is deemed to have given consent to formal chemical testing by virtue of exercising the privilege of operating a motorcraft on Michigan’s waters.  MCL 324.80187(1).  The person may elect whether the testing is completed by blood, urine or breath, but the results are admissible in a court of law to determine the person’s guilt or innocence.  MCL 324.80182(1).  Unlike the preliminary chemical test, the penalties for refusing the formal chemical test after arrest are more severe.  The police officer cannot compel the person to take a formal chemical test without a court order, although he or she may pursue one.  MCL 324.80181(1)(b)(ii).  A person who refuses to submit to this formal chemical test after arrest will be issued an order recorded with the Michigan Secretary of State not to operate a vessel on the waters of this state for at least 6 months.  MCL 324.80181(1)(b)(iii).  A person’s refusal to submit to a preliminary breath test or a formal chemical test after arrest is admissible in a criminal prosecution for the purpose of showing the test was offered, but not admissible for showing the person’s guilt or innocence.  MCL 324.80184.

If a person is found guilty, pleads guilty or pleads no contest to operating a motorboat under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then the court will order the person to undergo screening and assessment to determine if the person could benefit from rehabilitative services, education or treatment programs.  In addition to the statutory penalties, the court can order that person to participate in and complete a rehabilitative program as a condition of probation or parole at that person’s expense.  MCL 324.80185(2).  Failure to complete rehabilitative programs as ordered can result in a violation of probation or parole which subjects the person to additional incarceration.  If a person is also ordered not to operate a vessel on Michigan’s waters due to refusing a formal chemical test or operating a motorcraft while intoxicated, then violating that order (or knowingly permitting someone else to violate that order with his or her vessel) can result in an additional misdemeanor conviction punishable by:

  • For a first offense, a fine up to $500.00 or up to 90 days in jail, or both. MCL 324.80196(1)(a).
  • For a second or subsequent offense, a fine up to $1,000.00 or up to 1 year in jail, or both. MCL 324.80196(1)(b).
  • The period that the person was prohibited from operating a vessel or motorcraft on Michigan’s waters is doubled. MCL 324.80196(2).
  • The vessel shall be ordered impounded between 30 days and 120 days at the owner’s expense. MCL 324.80197.

An order not to operate a vessel on the waters of this state or to operate a vessel with restrictions does not expire until the person subject to the order pays an administrative order processing fee of $125.00 to the Michigan Secretary of State.  MCL 324.80198.

Michigan has enacted tough penalties for operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but that is no reason to accepting defeat in a criminal prosecution. As always, remember that prosecutors have the burden of proving your guilt beyond reasonable doubt.  A knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense lawyer will hold the prosecutors to that standard.  You may have a valid defense to the alleged crime available to assert.  For example, the evidence against you may be suppressed if the peace officer wrongfully seized evidence without a warrant or extracted a confession without notifying you of your Miranda rights.  You may be found not guilty of the offense if you were not actually operating the motorcraft, you were not actually impaired, or you were lawfully proscribed the controlled substances in your system.

If you or a loved one is accused of any DUI offense, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for assistance today.

 

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