Boating and a DUI
If you operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or both, you are committing a crime. If you are caught, you could lose your boating privileges and face hefty fines and a jail sentence. Boating under the influence, also known as BUI, is a serious offense. If you have been arrested for BUI, you need to know what your charges mean, what your legal rights are, and what defense options are open to you. Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney Sean Logue and his associates are experienced in DUI/BUI defense.
Boating Under the Influence laws were enacted in Pennsylvania in 1985. They include all types of watercraft, including yachts, canoes, rowboats, and more. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has published a section with information about Boating Under the Influence in the Safety and Rescue section of its Boating Handbook. The handbook states that alcohol is prohibited in state parks, both on land and water, and in most of the United States Army Corps of Engineers projects.
The guide also says that the effects of alcoholic beverages are enhanced on a boat. When you combine the numbing factor of alcohol with the stress on your body from motion, heat, and wind, your ability to safely operate your boat is diminished.
Coast Guard and State Park Officers, like local police officers and state troopers, can use breath tests, called Breathalyzer machines, to determine how much alcohol is in your blood. The legal limit on the water is the same as on the roads … 0.08% blood alcohol content for adults and 0.02% for minors.
An arrest for boating while intoxicated will unfold in the same manner as one on the streets, and the penalties are the same: large fines, jail sentences, and the loss of your boating license.
Pennsylvania considers the operation of a watercraft of any kind while under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol to be illegal. You may also be charged with other things if you are picked up for BUI, such as public drunkenness, reckless operation of a boat, or underage drinking. These additional charges will lead to higher fines and longer jail sentences.
The most important factor involved in a Boating Under the Influence charge is your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). As noted above, by law, a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher is considered to be impaired if you are over the age of 21. If you are a minor (below the age of 21), you are considered impaired if your Blood Alcohol Concentration is at or above 0.02 percent. If a Waterways Conservation Officer (WCO) suspects you have been drinking while operating a watercraft, he is authorized to give you field sobriety tests and/or a breathalyzer test.
When you received your boating license, you gave your implied consent to sobriety testing. If you refuse to take the tests, your boating license will be suspended for a year, and the prosecutor will use your refusal against you when you go to court. A BUI conviction comes with fines of up to $7,500 and up to two years in jail, plus the loss of your boating license.
In the same way that you can fight a driving under the influence charge, you can fight a boating under the influence charge.
Have you or someone you know been charged with Boating Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs in or around the city of Pittsburgh? If so, you will need a criminal defense attorney with experience in BUI to defend you. The Logue Criminal Defense team serves the following areas: Pittsburgh, PA, West Virginia, and Ohio. To schedule an initial consultation, free of charge with one of our experienced Pittsburgh Criminal Defense lawyers, call today: (412) 612-2210 or (412) 389-0805. Or, you can contact us online.
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