Q: Can a person be charged with operating a boat while intoxicated?
A: Yes. The charge is called Boating Under the Influence (B.U.I). It is illegal in Ohio for an individual to operate, or physically control, a boat or any type of water vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is also illegal for an individual to operate, or physically control, a boat or any type of water vessel with a prohibited level of alcohol or drugs. The same legal limits apply to operating a boat that apply to operating a vehicle. In Ohio, the prohibited alcohol concentration is .08 or higher for a person over twenty-one years of age and .02 or higher for a persons under the age of twenty-one. There are also prohibited concentrations for certain drugs.
Q: How do law enforcement officers conduct a Boating Under the Influence investigation?
A: Law enforcement officers conduct a BUI investigation in the same manner as DUI / OVI investigations. A law enforcement officer may simply choose to inspect an individual’s boat or investigate a boater after receiving a complaint. An officer will make observations while first interacting with a boater and look for clues that the boater is intoxicated. These clues include: the odor of alcohol, the condition of the driver’s eyes, slurred speech, level of coordination, and overall attitude, just to name a few. If the officer believes the boater is under the influence, the officer will conduct a BUI investigation using the same techniques as the ones used in a DUI / OVI investigation. Those techniques include field sobriety tests and chemical tests (breath, urine, and blood). If a boater refuses to take a chemical test, he or she will face a suspension of the right to register and/or operate a watercraft in the state of Ohio.
Q: What are the penalties for a first-time charge of Boating Under the Influence?
A: BUI is classified as a first degree misdemeanor. An individual convicted of BUI in Ohio will face up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and up to five years of probation. There are some mandatory penalties for B.U.I. A first time offender will face a mandatory jail sentence of at least three days (or complete a driver intervention program) and a mandatory fine of at least $150. Also, a boater who refuses to consent to a chemical test (breath, blood, or urine) will be ineligible to operate or register a watercraft for one year
Q: What are the penalties if a person has more than one conviction for Boating Under the Influence?
A: If an individual has previously been convicted of BUI, or any DUI / OVI, the minimum mandatory penalties for a subsequent BUI conviction are increased. An individual convicted of a second BUI offense within ten years will face the minimum mandatory jail sentence of 10 days. For a third offense within ten years, the individual will face a minimum mandatory jail sentence of 30 days. In the same regard, if an individual has a BUI conviction and is later convicted for DUI / OVI, the minimum mandatory sentence for the DUI / OVI charge is increased. Furthermore, repeat violators may be included on a list of habitual D.U.I offenders.
Our practice is focused on DUI / OVI defense, and we have experience representing clients charged with BUI. To learn more about us, please see the firm overview. You can also see what clients say and review our past case results . We limit the number of cases we accept so we can provide outstanding service to our clients. If you would like to discuss how we can help with your DUI / OVI, EMAIL US or call us at 614-717-1177 to arrange a free consultation.