Boating Under the Influence(BUI) – The Basics

BUI – Boating under the influence

BUI - Boating Under the Influence Thomas Hogan Law OfficeThere are laws to prevent people from operating watercrafts and recreational boats while under the influence of alcohol. The offense of operating watercrafts and recreational boats while intoxicated is referred to as Boating Under the Influence or BUI. Watercrafts include jet skis.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

Each state has its own BUI laws that specify the minimum blood alcohol concentration (BAC) requirements for a BUI offense. In most states it is 0.08 percent. In some it is 0.10 percent. However,  you can be charged with BUI even if your blood alcohol concentration is less that the 0.08 percent if you are deemed intoxicated based on the results of field sobriety tests. Many states have zero tolerance laws for underage BUI.

Alcohol is more dangerous on water

When you consume alcohol while on water, you are more likely to get intoxicated faster than you would on land. The sun, the wind, the motion, the engine noise all contribute to  faster intoxication. It can affect your coordination, balance, vision and judgment. Your reaction time will decline significantly.

Enforcement of BUI Laws

The Coast Guard enforces the BUI laws in cooperation with state agencies. The objective is to remove impaired boaters from the water to make the water safe for others. An impaired boater not only endangers his or her life but also endangers the lives of others.

BUI laws on rivers and water bodies that are overseen exclusively by states are enforced by the state agencies.

The Coast Guard may arrest the person and hand him over the state authorities for prosecution.

Consequences of a BUI Conviction

A BUI conviction can have serious consequences. It will remain on your record. Your recreational boating license can be suspended or cancelled. You may have to pay fines. In some cases, you may be sent to jail. Like with DUI, the punishment is enhanced for repeat offenders or when minors are on board. The presence of aggravating circumstances such as an accident can result in a felony BUI charge.

Avoiding BUI

First of all, avoid drinking and boating. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. If you intend to go boating on a body of water, understand the applicable laws.

Fighting a BUI Charge

If you have been arrested for BUI, contact a BUI attorney immediately. You may have defenses available.

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