Many people on Mississippi and Alabama’s Gulf Coast enjoy boating during the summer months. It is a great way to enjoy the water and warm weather while having a good time with family and friends.
People who live in Gulfport and along the coast may wish to enjoy alcohol while on the water. They should be aware that both Alabama and Mississippi prohibit boating while intoxicated.
Laws prohibiting drunk boating carry harsh penalties
In most ways, the punishments for drunk boating are basically the same as those for drunk driving.
In Mississippi, a person caught operating a watercraft while legally drunk will for a first offense have to pay a fine and may have to spend a night in jail. They will also have to take a boating safety course.
The person may also have to explain the criminal conviction on their record.
Subsequent convictions carry harsher penalties, including mandatory jail time and court-ordered bans on operating watercraft.
As is the case with motor vehicles, Mississippi officers can make an arrest for boating while intoxicated if a person’s overall behavior suggests that they cannot safely operate a boat.
The officers may also make an arrest if the operator’s blood alcohol content is .08% or greater.
In Alabama, the penalties for boating while intoxicated closely track penalties for drunk driving. It is worth being aware that if a person is caught boating while intoxicated with a child under 14 in the vessel, they will face additional penalties.
A person accused of boating while intoxicated may have a number of legal options available to them.
For example, law enforcement officers patrolling the waterways must have legal grounds to stop a boat and to ask for an alcohol test. Otherwise, the court may disallow the prosecutor’s evidence.