Boating and a DUI
Boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not just a risk but a crime. The consequences can be severe if you’re caught. Prepare yourself for hefty fines, a potential jail sentence, and even the loss of your boating privileges. It’s crucial to fully understand the implications of BUI charges, know your legal rights, and be aware of available defense options.
In Pennsylvania, the Boating Under the Influence laws were established in 1985 and apply to all types of watercraft, from yachts to canoes. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission provides comprehensive information on BUI in the Safety and Rescue section of its Boating Handbook. Remember, alcohol is strictly prohibited in state parks and water bodies, in line with regulations across the country, including projects overseen by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
Operating a boat while intoxicated can significantly amplify the effects of alcohol due to factors like motion, heat, and wind. These combined with alcohol’s numbing effect can impair your ability to navigate your boat safely.
Law enforcement agencies such as the Coast Guard, State Park officers, local police officers, and state troopers use Breathalyzer machines to determine blood alcohol content. The legal limit on water mirrors that of the roads: 0.08% for adults and 0.02% for minors.
If you find yourself apprehended for boating under the influence, the process will resemble a street arrest, leading to substantial fines, potential jail time, and the suspension of your boating license. Stay safe and avoid putting yourself and others at risk by making responsible choices while operating a boat.
Pennsylvania considers operating any watercraft under the influence of drugs or alcohol as illegal. Boating Under the Influence (BUI) charges may bring additional offenses like public drunkenness, reckless boat operation, or underage drinking, leading to increased fines and longer jail sentences.
Impaired status is determined by Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels. For those aged 21 and above, impairment occurs at or above 0.08 percent BAC. Minors are impaired at or above 0.02 percent BAC. If a Waterways Conservation Officer (WCO) suspects alcohol consumption while operating a watercraft, field sobriety tests and/or a breathalyzer test may be conducted.
It’s important to understand that obtaining a boating license implies giving consent to sobriety testing. Refusing these tests results in a one-year license suspension, and the prosecution can use the refusal as evidence in court. A BUI conviction carries severe consequences, including fines up to $7,500, a maximum prison term of two years, and forfeiture of the boating license.
Similar to challenging a driving under the influence charge, fighting a boating under the influence charge is possible.
If you or someone you know faces a Boating Under the Influence charge in or around Washington, seek the expertise of a skilled Washington PA DUI attorney specializing in BUI cases. The Logue Criminal Defense team serves Washington, PA, West Virginia, and Ohio, offering a free initial consultation. To schedule a consultation with our experienced Washington PA criminal lawyers, call today at (844) PITT-DUI or (412) 389-0805. You can also reach us online.
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