Consuming alcohol affects vision, judgment, coordination, and balance. This increases the likelihood of boating accidents and puts passengers and operators at risk. Alcohol is even more dangerous on the water than land, and alcohol is responsible for nearly a third of all recreational boating deaths. It is illegal to operate a boat under the influence of alcohol in every state, and the Coast Guard enforces a federal BUI law that applies to all vessels.
The Coast Guard and individual state laws carry heavy penalties for boating under the influence. This includes large fines, loss of boat operation privileges, and jail time. BUI laws and enforcement vary from state to state, so familiarize yourself with your state’s individual limits and enforcement.
Per the Coast Guard website:
“In waters that are overseen solely by the states, the states have the authority to enforce their own BUI statutes. In-state waters that are also subject to U.S. jurisdiction, there is concurrent jurisdiction. That means if a boater is apprehended under Federal law in these waters, the Coast Guard will (unless precluded by state law) request that state law enforcement officers take the intoxicated boater into custody.
When the Coast Guard determines that an operator is impaired, the voyage may be terminated. The vessel will be brought to a mooring by the Coast Guard or a competent and un-intoxicated person on board the recreational vessel. Depending on the circumstances, the Coast Guard may arrest the operator, detain the operator until sober, or turn the operator over to state or local authorities.”
Does a BUI count as a DUI?
BUI law varies from state to state, and in some states, a BUI conviction can impact the offender’s automobile privileges.
California BUI Law
In California, a BUI conviction counts the same as a DUI conviction, with the possible suspension to revocation of the operator’s driver’s license.
Illinois BUI Law
Illinois does not categorize a BUI as a DUI.
Missouri BUI Law
Missouri does not categorize a BUI as a DUI.
Pennsylvania BUI Law
Pennsylvania does not categorize a BUI as a DUI.
For a full list of state BUI and DUI classifications and regulations, visit the USCG website.
Is Boating Under the Influence a Felony? Can You Drive a Boat if you Have a DUI?
A BUI charge can depend on a number of factors and be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. BUI penalties vary state to state, and charges depend on the operator’s intoxication level, if a BUI lawsuit happens, the BUI lawyer defense, the operator’s past criminal experience, and many other factors. Familiarize yourself with your state’s boating under the influence laws.