With access to the Chesapeake Bay and numerous waterways, boating is a common summer activity for Maryland residents.
Sailing or powerboating on a hot summer day often involves cold drinks including water, beer and wine. Although recreational boating often involves drinking while driving the boat, boating under the influence and boating while intoxicated is illegal in the state of Maryland.
In fact, alcohol use has been implicated as one of the most common causes of boating accidents along with operator inattention and operator inexperience.
Maryland law prohibits operating or attempting to operate a watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or while impaired by drugs or alcohol. If marine law enforcement finds that a boat operator is operating under the influence of alcohol, the boat operator can be charged with Boating Under the Influence (BUI) and Boating While Intoxicated (BWI).
Boaters can be asked to submit to a chemical test to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC) if they are suspected of operating a boat while intoxicated.
Maryland law states that when you operate a vessel in Maryland waters you have consented to random tests for drugs and alcohol by law enforcement officials so neither the United States Coast Guard nor the Maryland Natural Resources Police need a reason to board a water vessel to check for BUI and BWI.
Refusing to submit to a chemical test can result in the loss of boating privileges for up to one year.
Boating Under the Influence
Under Maryland law, a blood test that indicates a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or greater will result in a BUI charge.
In general, the penalties for a BUI are more severe than those for a BWI conviction.
Under Maryland law, 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 probably see a doubling of the fines and/or jail time.
Boating While Intoxicated
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.
Many people facing a BUI or BWI charge are concerned about the impact on their driving privileges. A drunken boating conviction does not affect your driving record and will not impact the status of your Maryland driver’s license.
An experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney can help you with your Maryland boating under the influence/boating while intoxicated charge. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick have experience fighting Maryland BUI and BWI charges. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410.244.5068 or via our website for a free consultation.