Every state and the federal government have laws against Boating Under the Influence (‘BUI’) that allow law enforcement officials to stop boats and other watercraft, and make sure that boat operators and their passengers are safe enough to be allowed on the water. The power to make and enforce BUI laws is left up to each state. BUI laws are much like driving under the influence (DUI) laws that were enacted to help keep drivers, passengers, and the community safe. Operators who have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% percent or greater are considered intoxicated.
Being charged with a BUI can have serious financial consequences, and can put your legal freedom at stake. Much like being charged with a DUI you could have a criminal record, face jail time, incur heavy monetary fines, and face increased boater and auto insurance rates.
Why are BUI laws important?
BUI regulations exist to prevent and minimize the possibility that an intoxicated person will operate a vessel on the water, reduce the threat of harm to oneself and others. The U.S. Coastguard warns that alcohol is more dangerous on water than on land. Not only is the vessel being operated much larger than a car typically, it is more difficult to control a vessel on the water than it is on land.
The consequences of a BUI will depend on the circumstances of the offense, the offender’s police record, and the state in which the incident took place, as BUI laws are determined by each state, whether or not people were harmed, or if there was property damage.
You could have a criminal charge placed on your record, not simply a fine like a traffic ticket.
Recreational boat operators could have their boating licenses suspended or revoked.
Repeat offenders could face higher consequences, as do boaters convicted of BUI while minors were on board, or who gave alcohol or drugs to minors on the watercraft.
Your driver’s license may also be affected by a BUI conviction.
Commercial boat operators could lose not only their license, but also their livelihood. BUI convictions can also generate monetary fines and affect your boat and car insurance rates. A court or administrative judge may also require people convicted of boating while drunk or under the influence to get alcohol and drug counseling.
Being convicted of a BUI could leave you with fines, jail or prison time, probation, and suspension of your boating privileges so its best you don’t put yourself in a situation where you could be charged with a BUI. For your safety and the safety of others. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, roughly half of all boating fatalities involve alcohol.
What to do if you’re convicted of a BUI
If you’ve been arrested for boating under the influence, it is in your best interest to get in contact with an experienced attorney who can handle BUI cases. A qualified attorney can give you the full picture of how the law applies to your case.
This is a general article for example purposes. As always, please contact us at 979-821-2663 regarding your specific case.