Now that spring is finally making its way to Maryland, many residents are planning their first boating excursion of the year. While for some people, having a few beers or a glass of wine is part of a day out on the water, if you’re the one operating the boat, you have to be careful.
Boating under the influence (BUI) is every bit as serious as driving under the influence (DUI). Just as if you were behind the wheel of a car, if you’re found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above while operating a water vessel (anything from a rowboat or canoe to a yacht), you could face state and/or federal criminal charges.
Negligent or reckless operation of any watercraft can have deadly consequences. That’s why federal and state law enforcement officers monitor waterways and the waters off our coastlines. If they see someone operating a boat erratically, they can pull them over. Sometimes, they also set up checkpoints where all vessels are stopped and the operators questioned.
Boaters who are suspected of being under the influence can be subject to a series of sobriety tests, just as drivers can be, including a Breathalyzer. There are some unique field sobriety tests for boaters, since they can’t always do the usual walking in a straight line test unless they’re near a dock. They may be asked to recite a phrase. Law enforcement officials may ask a boater to perform functions necessary to safely operate the boat.
Besides possibly losing your boating license, if you are convicted of BUI, you could have to pay substantial fines and possibly even serve time in jail. That’s why it’s essential to take a BUI charge seriously. An experienced Maryland attorney can help you navigate the justice system.
Source: Select Insurance Group, “Boating Under The Influence,” accessed March 30, 2018