Updated on March 24th, 2021 at 03:19 pm


If you are headed out on the water to enjoy the long weekend, be mindful of drinks consumed while operating your watercraft.  Increased patrols will be out looking for anyone Boating Under the Influence (BUI) as part of an initiative called Operation Dry Water.

Operation Dry Water

Operation Dry Water is a national BUI awareness and enforcement campaign.  The Coast Guard, Sheriff and Police Departments, and the Department of Natural Resources all participate in Operation Dry Water.  Their mission is to reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents and fatalities through increased recreational boater awareness and enforcement.   Though the initiative runs throughout the year, warm weather and holiday weekends lead to increased patrols.  They want to make sure the message is clear: Boating Under the Influence can have the same consequences as driving under the influence, both in loss of life and liberty.

Can I be subjected to a Field Sobriety Test?

Officers in Wisconsin plan to randomly pull boats over to ensure laws are being followed such as correct boat lighting, proper life jacket requirements, and signs of intoxication.  Factors other than consumption of drugs or alcohol can contribute to a boater’s impairment such as heat, wind, glare, and the boat’s motion on the water for an extended time.   Authorities may ask you to “walk and turn,” recite a phrase, or perform other basic functions required to safely operate a boat or other watercraft.  It is important to be aware that anyone operating a boat or other watercraft is considered to have given consent to an alcohol or drug test by authorities.

Wisconsin BUI Penalties

Wisconsin BUI is considered when you have a Legal Blood Alcohol Limit of .08% or higher, 0.04% for operating a commercial boat.  Though driving a boat while intoxicated does not affect the privileges of operating a motor vehicle, such as your driver’s license being suspended or revoked, it does carry the potential for penalties of fines, jail time, and completion of a boating safety course or alcohol assessment.

Hire a Wisconsin BUI Defense Attorney

If you do receive a Wisconsin BUI, it is important to hire an attorney with experience in Wisconsin BUI Defense.  Contact Attorneys Nathan J. Dineen or Daniel R. Skarie of Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C. , located throughout Wisconsin with offices in Milwaukee, Sister Bay, Appleton, West Bend, Sturgeon Bay, and Germantown.  You may complete and submit a Case Review or contact us toll free at 1-877-384-6800.