Michigan Boating Laws and Alcohol Limits You Need to Know

Michigan boating laws

Are you getting your boat out this weekend?

Looking to relax while on the open water?

The state of Michigan often gets a bad rap for the weather. Once spring comes. and the temperatures start to warm up, you start to realize that Michigan is a great place to live.

From parks to lakes, Michigan has a lot to offer. Boating on those lakes in Michigan is one of my favorite parts of living here. There is nothing like taking your boat out on a beautiful Michigan day.

However, boating and alcohol limits have changed in Michigan. Before you head out onto the water, make sure that you know what the changes are.

Changes in Michigan’s Boating Laws

We have known for a while now that the boating under the influence law was going to change. In an article that I wrote back in April of 2013, I covered how Michigan lawmakers had introduced new legislation that would change the amount of alcohol you can drink while operating a boat.

In 2005, a boater who had been driving under the influence ran over and killed a 7-year-old in Cass County. The driver had a blood alcohol level that would have gotten him arrested for drunk driving if he had been driving a car. Due to the accident occurring on the water, county officials were unable to prosecute the accused as severely as if it had happened on the road.

Now that all has changed.

New Michigan Boating Laws

What are the changes to the boating laws in Michigan? The new changes include:

  • The blood alcohol limit has changed. It was .10, and now it is .08, just like if you were driving a car.
  • If you are under the age of 21, you may not operate a boat with any alcohol in your system.

The Detroit News reported that operating with any amount of controlled substances is strictly prohibited.

According to Michigan Radio, these new laws also apply to snowmobiles and off-road vehicles.

Penalties for Exceeding Limits

According to the Boat Michigan Course, the penalties for being over the limit are,

  • If you are arrested for boating under the influence, you will be charged with a misdemeanor.
  • If you receive three convictions within ten years, you will be charged with a felony.
  • Additionally, if you are boating under the influence and cause great bodily harm or the death of another person, you will be charged with a felony.

Michigan Radio quoted Rep. Dave Pagel, R-78th District, who co-sponsored the legislation had this to say,

“The message that we’re sending to our fellow citizens and to our tourists is that we take alcohol abuse seriously in these areas.”

Michigan Live quoted Rep. Matt Lori, R-Constantine that these tougher laws “will save lives.”

Lori also said,

“People operating boats and other watercraft should be able to relax and enjoy these natural resources, but they need to show responsibility too,” “It is not responsible to become intoxicated and threaten the safety of other people.”


What do you think about the lower limit? Do you believe, like Rep. Matt Lori, that it will save lives? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.