Every state has driving under the influence laws to keep drivers and passengers safe while on the road. The federal government and every state have boating under the influence laws to keep people safe on the water. BUI laws allow police to check that the operators and passengers of watercraft are acting safely in Maryland. A BUI can have serious financial consequences, including increased boater and auto insurance rates, heavy monetary fines and jail time.
The basics of BUI
BUI regulations lower the possibility of intoxicated boat operators endangering themselves or others. The US Coast Guard warns people that alcohol is more dangerous on the water than on land. Federal and state authorities use criminal and civil laws to pull over watercraft operators and drivers. Glare, noise, heat, sun and motion of the water create boater fatigue. Alcohol and drugs enhance boater fatigue impairment and lower the ability to safely operate various watercraft.
Police can set up BUI checkpoints just like they would for DUIs. BUI checkpoints allow law enforcement to question boat operators and check for boating while intoxicated offenses. Not every state even requires probable cause for a BUI checkpoint. A lawyer with experience with DUI and BUI can help people understand their rights.
Consequences of a BUI conviction
Boating under the influence has severe consequences because recreational and commercial boating injuries have been rising. BUI may give the operator a criminal record instead of a fine like a traffic ticket. Recreational watercraft operators could have their boating license suspended or revoked. Repeat offenders or people who are boating under the influence with minors have higher penalties and may have their driver’s licenses affected. Commercial watercraft operators may lose their boating license and livelihood. Boat and car insurance rates may increase and a judge could require people to get alcohol and drug counseling.
People should remember to be careful on holiday weekends. Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day are the deadliest weekends on the road and the water. States have individual boating regulations, and watercraft operators should understand their local rules. Passengers should always wear life vests on boats because alcohol may impair their balance.