Boating and a DUI
Operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not only risky but also criminal. If caught, the consequences can be severe. Prepare to face hefty fines, a jail sentence, and even a loss of boating privileges. It’s crucial to understand the implications of BUI charges, your legal rights, and available defense options.
Pennsylvania’s Boating Under the Influence laws were enacted in 1985, encompassing 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, emphasizing that alcohol is prohibited in state parks and water bodies, aligning with similar regulations nationwide, including United States Army Corps of Engineers projects.
Operating a boat while intoxicated magnifies the effects of alcohol due to motion, heat, and wind factors. These, combined with alcohol’s numbing effect, impair your ability to safely navigate your boat.
Breathalyzer machines, utilized by Coast Guard, State Park officers, as well as local police officers and state troopers, aid in determining blood alcohol content. The legal limit on water mirrors that of the roads: 0.08% for adults and 0.02% for minors.
If apprehended for boating under the influence, the process mirrors that of a street arrest, resulting in substantial fines, jail time, and the suspension of your boating license.
Pennsylvania categorizes operating any watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol as illegal. Additionally, BUI charges may be accompanied by other offenses like public drunkenness, reckless boat operation, or underage drinking. Understand that these additional charges will lead to increased fines and longer jail sentences.
Boating Under the Influence (BUI) charges entail various crucial factors, with the primary one being the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level. For individuals aged 21 and above, an impaired state is deemed to occur when the BAC reaches or exceeds 0.08 percent. For minors, a BAC equal to or surpassing 0.02 percent results in impairment. If a Waterways Conservation Officer (WCO) suspects alcohol consumption while operating a watercraft, field sobriety tests and/or a breathalyzer test may be administered.
It is important to note that, upon receiving a boating license, individuals grant implied consent to sobriety testing. Refusing to comply with these tests leads to a one-year suspension of the boating license, where the prosecution can also utilize the refusal as evidence in court. A conviction for BUI carries weighty ramifications, including fines of up to $7,500, a maximum of two years’ imprisonment, as well as the forfeiture of the boating license.
Similar to fighting a driving under the influence charge, challenging a boating under the influence charge is possible.
If you or someone you know has been charged with Boating Under the Influence in or around Pittsburgh, you will require the expertise of a skilled Pittsburgh DUI attorney specializing in BUI cases. The Logue Criminal Defense team operates in Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and Ohio, and is ready to provide an initial consultation free of charge. To schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Pittsburgh criminal lawyers, call us today at (844) PITT-DUI or (412) 389-0805. Alternatively, you can reach out to us online.
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