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This weekend, people all across the state will be celebrating Memorial Day with friends and family. Not only is this a three-day weekend, but it is also the unofficial start of summer. And as any Minnesotan knows, it’s vital to soak up every day of this season, rain or shine.

This means that many people plan to get their boats in the water at cabins or in lakes around the Cities during the holiday weekend. If this is part of your plan, remember that there are strict boating laws in place, especially with regard to boating and drinking. With this in mind, readers should understand a few important things about boating while intoxicated, or BWI, in Minnesota

Drinking on boats is not prohibited

State laws allow people to drink alcoholic beverages on boats and have open bottles on watercrafts. And the laws prohibiting drinking and operating a boat do not apply if an boat is anchored, docked or being propelled by a non-mechanical means.

But there are still strictly enforced limits

Make no mistake, though: operating a boat while legally intoxicated is unlawful. To be considered legally intoxicated, a driver will need to have a 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration, which is the same limit for operating a car.

Penalties can be the same for BWI and DWI

Convictions for both boating while intoxicated and driving while intoxicated can lead to jail time, loss of license and driving privileges, fines and loss of vehicle.

Stay safe and know your rights this weekend

Law enforcement agents often ramp up drunk driving patrols during holidays like Memorial Day, and these crackdowns happen on roads and the water. To avoid arrest and the potential for crashes, it is best to refrain from driving any vehicle if you are going to drink.

However, if you do wind up arrested for a BWI or DWI, understand that you have the right to speak with an attorney to defend yourself. With legal guidance, you can work to avoid exposure to the harshest penalties and minimize the impact a drunk driving offense has on your future.

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