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Boating while intoxicated is against the law in Iowa

A day on the water in your boat is a great way to enjoy some fresh air and forget about life's stresses. When you're planning your trip, be sure to think carefully about who is going to operate the boat while you're out because that individual needs to avoid alcohol during the trip.

Iowa's Water Navigation Regulations strictly forbid boating while intoxicated. This means that a person who consumes alcohol while they're operating a vessel can face criminal charges. A conviction comes with several possible sentences.

What's considered intoxicated?

A person is considered intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher. A person who has any measurable amount of a controlled substance in their urine or blood is considered intoxicated. It's also possible to be legally intoxicated due to a combination of alcohol and other drugs or substances.

One important exception in the law is found in 462A.12 subsection 2, which notes that as long as alcohol isn't present, a person who is under the influence of a narcotic, marijuana, hypnotic or other drugs can operate a vessel as long as they have a valid prescription. In order to remain within the confines of this section, the substance must be used in accordance with the prescription and there must not be a notice that you should refrain from operating a vessel, motor vehicle, surfboard, water skis or other similar devices.

What are the possible sentences for a first offense?

A first offense of boating while intoxicated is a serious misdemeanor. It comes with a minimum of 48 hours in county jail with credit for any time you served when you were arrested. The court can schedule this time so that it doesn't affect your work.

You can be prohibited from operating a vessel for one year and might be ordered to a substance abuse evaluation and treatment program. There's also the possibility of a fine of $1,000. That can be reduced by $500 if there isn't any injury or damage to personal property. It's possible for the court to order unpaid community service as an alternative to fines.

What should you do if you're accused of boating while intoxicated?

You should remember that your constitutional rights apply when you're stopped on the water for a suspected boating while intoxicated incident. You have the right to remain silent, and it's beneficial to exercise that right. You can also invoke your right to have an attorney present if you're being questioned. By doing these, you may protect some of the defense strategies that are possible in these matters.

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