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Boating Under The Influence: 3 Things You Need To Know

Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is a crime under both federal and state laws and can result in consequences such as a criminal record, jail time and fines.

A driver is considered legally impaired in the United States when their blood alcohol content is 0.08% or higher. In the state of Minnesota, this is the legal limit for those operating both vehicles and boats. Although the state considers someone intoxicated if they have a BAC of 0.08% or higher, you can actually receive a BUI just for being intoxicated at all. It is illegal for a driver of a boat or car in the state of Minnesota to refuse a breathalyzer test. If you do, you will receive a criminal charge and lose boating privileges for one year.

BUI laws were introduced due to an increase in alcohol and drug-related boating accidents. Over half of all accidents occur under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and alcohol is the leading cause of fatal boating accidents. In the state of Minnesota, drivers can receive a BUI whether the boat that they are operating has a motor or not.

It can be more dangerous than drunk driving

The consumption of alcohol can cause impairment in judgment, vision, coordination, and balance. While this can severely affect a driver of a vehicle, it can have even worse effects on those on the water.

While roads are marked with signs and streetlights to keep drivers informed of road conditions, hazards and speed limits, drivers on the water are not given these same precautions. Boat operators must keep watch for other boats, animals or people in the water and water conditions such as wave direction.

Many factors can impair a driver’s ability to think clearly while on the water, including heat, sun, noise, wind, glare and the rocking of a boat. These factors can cause something called “boater’s fatigue”. When drugs & alcohol are present, they can further affect the driver’s ability to safely operate the boat.

It can result in the loss of a driver’s license

Operating a boat under the influence can cause the driver to lose their driver’s license for a period of time.

In August of 2018, the state of Minnesota decided that anyone convicted of a DUI will lose the ability to operate a motorboat for 90 days. A BUI conviction will also result in the loss of a driver’s license for the same amount of time.

The consequences can be severe

While the consequences of receiving a BUI are like those of a DUI, some argue that they can be more severe.

A BUI conviction may result in license suspension or retraction, though consequences will increase in severity depending on the driver’s past record. While some drivers may only be charged with a misdemeanor, some can end up with a felony charge. Wondering what happens after your BUI or DUI arrest?

First-degree Boating Under the Influence

You may be charged with a first-degree BUI if you:

Consequences include:

Second-degree Boating Under the Influence

You may be charged with a second-degree BUI if you:

Consequences include:

Third-degree Boating Under the Influence

You may be charged with a third-degree BUI if you:

Consequences include:

Fourth-degree Boating Under the Influence

A fourth-degree BUI is a first-time offense.

Consequences include:

If you find yourself facing a BUI charge, contact Bruno Law for a consultation to discuss your case.