Boating in Maryland, which had been shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been re-opened as part of the relaxed restrictions on social gatherings recently put into place by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan under his “Safer at Home” initiative.
Recreational boating activities, including motorized and non-motorized vessels and personal watercraft, are allowed on Maryland and Ocean City’s waterways. However, some restrictions related to the coronavirus still apply:
- The maximum number of people allowed on a boat is 10, including captain and crew.
- Races, boats and other vessels, are allowed so long as no more than 10 people are in a gathering at one time.
- Marinas are now open to boaters.
- Pump-out stations and boats are now open.
- State boat ramps are open and operating and all ramps are practicing social distancing.
- Normal boating rules and regulations are in effect and should be followed.
As boaters get on the waterway for some much anticipated summer activities, they should also be aware that Ocean City and Baltimore boating accidents can occur, especially in Maryland, California and Florida, which rank in the top ten for boating accidents, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Alcohol use, operator inattention and operator inexperience are the top three reasons for Baltimore and Ocean City boating accidents.
Baltimore, Ocean City boating and alcohol
Under Maryland law, boaters are not allowed to operate or attempt to operate a watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or while impaired by drugs or alcohol. If Baltimore or Ocean City marine law enforcement discovers that the operator of a boat operator is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the boat operator can be charged with Boating Under the Influence (BUI) or Boating While Intoxicated (BWI).
The penalties for a BUI are more severe than those for a BWI conviction.
Neither the United States Coast Guard nor the Maryland Natural Resources Police need a reason to board a Baltimore or Ocean City watercraft to check for alcohol levels because Maryland law states that the operator of a vessel in Maryland waters has consented to random tests for drugs and alcohol by law enforcement officials. Baltimore or Ocean City boat operators who refuse to submit to a chemical test can lose boating privileges for up to one year.
A drunken boating conviction does not affect your driving record and or the status of your Maryland driver’s license.
Boating under the influence (BUI)
A blood test that indicates a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or greater will result in a BUI charge.
Boaters convicted of operating watercraft under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol face a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in jail. A first-offense Maryland BUI is a misdemeanor.
A second Maryland BUI conviction will more than likely see a doubling of the fines and/or jail time.
Boating while intoxicated (BWI)
A person can be convicted of a BWI for operating a vessel while “so far impaired by any drug, combination of drugs, or combination of one or more drugs and alcohol that the person cannot operate a vessel safely.”
A Maryland BWI charge generally shows a blood alcohol concentration of .07% to .08%.
A first Maryland BWI conviction is a misdemeanor and convicted boaters face a maximum of two months in jail and $500 in fines.
A Baltimore or Ocean City boating accident lawyer can help you if you are charged with a BUI or BWI. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick can help. The consultation is free. The Law Office of Thomas J. Maronick is open during the pandemic and will continue to meet your Ocean City and surrounding areas, Baltimore city and Baltimore county legal needs. We can meet with you remotely if you have access to Zoom. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 410-881-4022, the law office at 410-881-4022 or via our website for a free consultation.