Happy couple driving sailboat, drinking champagne

Boating Under the Influence

There’s federal laws state laws and local laws all prohibiting operating a boat under the influence.

The allowable blood alcohol level varies according to state. If you’re ever arrested for boating under the influence, contact a lawyer and a bail bonds office to get you out of jail.

Drinking on the water is different than drinking alcohol on the shore and has many physical side-effects. These side-effects can make it harder to stay safe while you’re boating out in the water. You might have balance problems, have trouble with coordination or your reaction time might be impaired. Your inner ear might also be in a state of disequilibrium. This can make it impossible for a person who falls into the water to distinguish direction, ultimately leaving them at risk of drowning.

It’s probably obvious why you don’t want to drink and then drive a car, but driving a boat under the influence is not a wise decision. Boating has many stressors that you just don’t encounter while you’re driving on the streets. For example, rough waves can bounce you around and negatively impact your balance and coordination. Also, the sun can dehydrate you, and the wind can make you nauseous. Combining all these things can make you feel like you’ve had too much to drink even without imbibing any alcohol. You should probably save the drinking for when you’re anchored at the shore and won’t be going anywhere.

Do implied consent laws apply to boating under the influence (BUI) incidents?

If you’re involved with a boating under the influence case, you’ll be affected by a different set of laws that deal with boating vessels as opposed to motor vehicles.
There is usually not the issue of implied consent when dealing with boating incidents. Now implied consent is something that affects everybody who drives a motor vehicle in a particular state. Simply put, implied consent is what you agreed to when you got your driver’s license. That is, you implicitly agreed ahead of time to take a breathalyzer test or urine test to check your blood alcohol level if you’re suspected of operating your motor vehicle under the influence. The implied consent provision means that your driver’s license can be administratively suspended if you don’t agree to be tested for alcohol when you are pulled over. If you take the test and have a blood alcohol level above a certain level (usually .08), then you will lose your drivers license for a certain duration under the implied consent laws. It’s also important to note that any refusal to take a breath test can be used against you in a criminal charge.

Now let’s shift gears to a BUI case or boating under the influence case. Since most states do not require you to have a boating license, there’s no boating implied consent law. So if you get arrested for suspicion of boating under the influence, there’s no “implied consent” where you have to take a breath test. There’s also not any drivers license revocation provisions for refusing the test.

That being said, there are several states where operating under the influence can impact your ability to drive a car. And many jurisdictions can still stick you with a mandatory fine (usually between $500 and $1,000) if you refuse to give a breath test. Also, consider that the authorities can stop a boating vessel for almost for any reason. This is not like a motor vehicle DUI suspicion case where police officers must have some basis for pulling you over and conducting a traffic stop. In contrast, your boat could be boarded for a safety inspection or a variety of other pretenses.

Some alternatives to alcohol when you’re going out on the water.

Skip the alcoholic beverages and bring non-alcoholic drinks like bottled juices, water, sports drinks or bottled sodas. Non-alcoholic beer is another option. You can also bring plenty of food and snacks. Having no alcohol on board is the safest way to enjoy the water. Another option is to dock on shore and drink some alcoholic beverages with your meal. But make sure you wait a few hours before going back out and commandeering your boat. Alcohol can turn otherwise great day into a disastrous tragedy.

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