BUI: Boating Under the Influence

July 27, 2010 According to US Coast Guard statistics:

In 2008 alcohol was the #1 leading contributing factor in deadly boating accidents;

There were 4,789 recreational boating accidents; and 709 boating fatalities occurred.

With a large number of these fatalities being alcohol related, people need to be aware that they can violate the boating under the influence laws in several ways. A few are:

1) they can have a BAC of .08 or above while operating the boat;

2) they can be under the influence of alcohol to such a degree that they cannot safely operate the boat;

3) they can have ANY amount of cannabis or controlled substance in their system while operating the boat.

Boating under the influence is generally a Class A misdemeanor with a punishment of 1-364 days in jail, but the offense can be far more serious if certain factors are present.

The offense can be a Class 4 felony if:

-If is the person's second time being charged with boating under the influence; or

-The person's rights to operate a watercraft were suspended At the time of the offense. For these offenses, the person can face 1-3 in the penitentiary;

-If there is injury to anyone other than the operator during the commission of the offense, the person faces 1-12 years in the penitentiary.

The offense can be a class 2 felony if death occurs during the commission of the offense. The person can face 3-14 years in the penitentiary if this occurs.

-In addition to criminal penalties, a person's rights to operate a watercraft can be suspended.

-In order for the coast guard, DNR, or police to determine if you are under the influence of alcohol, they can request that you submit to field sobriety tests, blood, breath, or urine tests. These field tests are quite different from those given to an operator of a motor vehicle.


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