Willis Law

Call Now For A Free Consultation

Toll Free: 888-483-4390
After hours / Weekends: 800-654-9832
Serving The Greater Kalamazoo & Grand Rapids AreasMap
Main Menu

Corporal Christopher Kelly Willis Foundation

Providing Great Rewards for Great Warriors.

Find Out More

Boats and beer: What are the rules of boating and drinking?

As the months get warmer, it's time for many Michigan residents to get out of the house and on to a boat. There may be nothing more relaxing than cruising across the lake in the summer heat, stopping periodically to take a plunge into the water. But can you also kick back with an icy cold beer on the boat? In Michigan, certain traditional rules of drinking and driving do not apply to boating. Understanding these rules may be the difference between enjoying a day on the lake and spending a night in jail.

Did you know that drinking alcohol on a boat is perfectly fine? There is no law prohibiting passengers or even the driver from being on a boat with an open container of alcohol. There are still rules, however, that boaters must follow to avoid an arrest.

While having a drink on a boat is fine, being drunk behind the wheel is still illegal. A driver can still be stopped and given field sobriety tests and breath tests to determine the level of impairment. An important distinction, however, is that a boat driver is not considered to be operating under the influence until he or she has a 0.10 blood-alcohol level. This is different from the traditional drunk driving level, which is 0.08 in Michigan.

Make no mistake, though, Coast Guard officials are on the lookout for reckless, dangerous or otherwise suspect driving behavior. A drunk driver may be a hazard on the water and put other people in danger. But because days on a boat may be long, leisurely excursions, it can be difficult to properly gauge how alcohol is affecting a person.

It is suggested that drinking alcohol in the hot summer sun can intensify the effects of alcohol. This can mean that even if you can typically have a few beers and not be intoxicated on land, that same amount can have a very different effect on the water.

Since the rules are a little different when it comes to drinking and boating, some people may have a false sense of leniency when it comes to their behavior on the water. This is not always the case. People can certainly be cited and arrested for unlawful actions in a boat and can find themselves brought back to shore in the company of police.

Source: mlive.com, "Boat Talk: Rules on drinking and boating different than drinking and driving," Heidi Fenton, May 26, 2012

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Get a FREE Consultation
Do you have a legal question? Get a FREE Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Super Lawyers Listed In Best Lawyers The World's Premier Guide The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 Best Lawyers | BEST LAW FIRMS | U.S.News & WORLD REPORT | 2014 AV Preeminent | Peer Review Rated | For Ethical Standards & Legal Ability Bar Register Preeminent Lawyers 2011
21st Century Innovators Energy Star Partner
Seal of Federal Bar Association - Eastern District of Michigan Chapter Seal of State Bar of Michigan Seal of United States District Court - Michigan Seal of United States District Court West Michigan's 101 Best and Brightest Companies To Work For | Winner 2010
Attorney Referrals /
Local Counsel

Payment Options and Special Discounts

These can be expensive matters which is why we offer reasonable rates and discounts for the following individuals:

  • Students
  • Senior Citizens
  • Members of the military

Our Commitment to You

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” Proverbs 15:22