Lakes Heavily Patrolled over Memorial Day Weekend

The media are reporting that Twin Cities area lakes will be heavily patrolled by the Sheriff’s Water Patrol. They are giving special attention in particular to Lake Minnetonka. This means that they will be arresting a substantial number of people for power boating while intoxicated. I haven’t heard, but I would expect that this may be going on in other parts of Minnesota as well.

For most purposes, a boat with a motor is considered to be a “motor vehicle” under Minnesota law. There was a time when driving while intoxicated was defined as driving on a “roadway.” Years ago that was amended to “within the state of Minnesota.” This means you can be given a DWI ticket for doing almost anything almost anywhere as long as it involves something with a motor on it.

There is a break given to first time offenders. The first offense in a boat or snowmobile or ATV does not involve taking away one’s license to drive. Any second or subsequent offense, however, is treated as if it was in a car. So I get these phone calls from second or third time offenders who are surprised to learn that because they were drinking and operating a boat, they now have to turn in the plates from their cars or trucks, and they are having their driver licenses suspended for ninety days. I’d like to have your business, but I’d really hate to see this happened to you.

I suggest you pass this warning along to anyone who you know will be out boating this weekend. You can use the utility on this page to email this to your friends.

For more detail about Minnesota law about boating while intoxicated, see my page at

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