What Should You Know About Boating Under the Influence
Did you know that there is such a thing called boating under the influence or BUI? Like its more grounded cousin, driving under the influence (DUI), boating under the influence is against the law. And if you get arrested for a BUI, you are going to need an experienced DUI lawyer to represent you in court because a BUI charge brings with it legal consequences that you will have to pay.
Authorities set up BUI checkpoints
You’re probably wondering how a drunk person driving a boat can be arrested for a BUI when lakes, rivers, and seas are bigger than roads. The answer is that law enforcement officials not only patrol the waters, but they also identify strategic points and put up BUI checkpoints there. They are authorized to stop and board your boat if there are indications that the boat driver is drunk. In some states, authorities can stop and board any boat without probable cause.
Federal and state BUI laws are strictly enforced
The enforcement of federal BUI laws is the responsibility of the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard has the authority to stop and board American boats on the high seas and foreign vessels in U.S. waters and American boats on the high seas.
States, on the other hand, have their own BUI laws which may slightly differ from one another in terms of penalties. On top of the usual fines and possible jail time, BUI convicts in some states may also be ordered to take a boating safety course. In other states, a BUI conviction could mean the loss of boating privileges. There are even states that suspend your regular driver’s license as well.
Those who are convicted of BUI face huge fines. A misdemeanor BUI offense could mean you will have to pay a fine of up to $1,000. A felony BUI charge is an entirely different story. Once convicted, the court may make you pay a fine of $25,000 or higher.
Probation of up to 12 months or longer is also a common punishment for BUI convicts. Some judges, however, hand out prison sentences of up to 12 months. Longer sentences are meted to those charged with a felony BUI, particularly when someone suffered serious injuries or died because of the boating accident they caused while drunk.
Drinking and driving a boat don’t mix
If drinking and driving a car is dangerous, so is drinking and driving a boat. In fact, driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol even carries more risks. Operating a boat takes a lot more skill than driving a car. On top of that, you have to know how to navigate the waters. If you let alcohol impair any of these skills for just a bit, you are already putting yourself, your passengers, and other boats at risk. The heat of the sun and the sometimes-treacherous waves can also make it worse for a boat driver who’s been drinking.
Don’t drink and drive a boat. It’s the only way for you and other people to be safe while having a great time on the water.