Many people enjoy boating in Ocean City, Maryland as a pastime when the weather is pleasant. However, under certain circumstances, it’s possible to face charges of boating while intoxicated. Even if you know you’ve been wrongly charged, it’s crucial to understand these laws.
Understanding boating under the influence
Like driving under the influence (DUI), boating under the influence (BUI) and boating while intoxicated (BWI) occur when a person operates a boat with alcohol or drugs in their system. According to Maryland law, it’s illegal to have a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher when operating a boat. Doing so can compromise a person’s ability to safely control the vessel and lead to a boating accident.
Penalties for BUI and BWI
For a first-time BUI, penalties include up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000. Meanwhile, a first-time BWI carries up to two months in prison and a maximum fine of $500. A second BUI offense can result in up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. A second or subsequent BWI conviction can result in up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Any conviction for BUI or BWI causing life-threatening injuries carries heftier penalties. If a person dies as a result of a boating accident caused by BUI or BWI, it’s considered a felony. BUI homicide carries up to five years in prison and a maximum $5,000 fine. If a person is convicted of BWI in an accident where someone is killed, they could face up to three years in prison for alcohol intoxication or up to five years for drugs in their system and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Boating accidents can be devastating. Operating a boat while sober and awake is the best way to stay safe.