Stricter drunken boating laws in effect across Michigan


GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — We’ve reached prime boating season in West Michigan.

But if you’re planning on hitting the water — and bringing some alcohol with you — there are new, stricter laws to keep in mind.

The maximum blood alcohol content for someone driving a boat has been lowered from .10 to .08 — same as on the road.

But will this new law actually lead to more arrests?

“Possibly. I can’t say if it will or will not, sure it’s a lower percent, so it could lead to more arrests,” said Sgt. Cal Keuning.

Keuning runs the marine unit for the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office.

Regardless of the change in the law, 24 Hour News 8 wanted to ask boaters — are people as concerned about drinking and boating, as they are about drinking and driving?

“It’s a completely different mindset than being in a car. You’re not doing anything, you’re not moving, you’re tied up with a bunch of other boaters and all of the sudden it’s time to go back to the dock and it’s like… Oh,” said Tim DeYoung.

But DeYoung, a father of two, is hoping the new law will at least bring more awareness to safe boating.

“I would just say be safe, remember there are kids out there and just because you don’t have them doesn’t mean they’re not out there.”

And you can bet — the officers will be watching.

“You can smell the intoxicants, maybe different bloodshot eyes, all different factors that we look at,” said Kuening.

“I want you to enjoy the water, have a great time, please, but we gotta be safe.”

And speaking of kids — there’s another component to these new laws.

If you’re arrested for an OWI on the water — and there are kids under 16 in the boat — the charge could be more severe.

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