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Boating Under the Influence

Experienced Attorneys Serving Bangor, Augusta, Saco, Portland and Middeford Maine

Drinking while Boating

BUI is a term that most people may be unfamiliar with. BUI stands for Boating Under the Influence and it is a crime in Maine. Just like driving, you are not allowed to be impaired when steering a watercraft. If you are found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and piloting a boat, you may be charged with BUI. You can be charged with BUI for operating any type of watercraft including, motorboats, sailboats, jet skis, water skis, and even surfboards. These watercraft are still considered dangerous is operated by a person who is under the influence.

When the cause of boating fatalities was investigated, it was found that approximately 33% of all deaths were caused by boating under the influence of alcohol (BUI). Data from the U.S. Coast Guard shows that many of these victims fell overboard or capsized their own boats because they were intoxicated. BUI arrests are a way to prevent boating accidents. This leads some Coast Guard officers to be extra strict on operators that they believe are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately BUI arrests, just like DUI arrests, can be made in error.

Maine BUI Lawyer

A BUI stop is very similar to a DUI stop. A coast guard officer will stop your watercraft and, if they have reason to believe you are intoxicated, will ask you to take a sobriety test. If you fail that test you can be arrested. A BUI arrest is no joke, and a conviction can result in steep fines and even jail or probation. You could also lose your boating AND driving privileges for up to a year. If you have had any past convictions for DUI or BUI, these penalties can be even worse. Many people feel that a BUI is more like a ticket, but it can result in serious consequences.

Just like vehicle OUIs, BUIs can result from drug or alcohol intoxication.  The legal blood alcohol limit for operating a boat or watercraft is .08%, the same as operating a car. If the boat operator is under 21, they cannot have any amount of alcohol in their system. If the officer has probable cause to suspect that you have been drinking, you must submit to a sobriety test or else face penalties. This can be anything from the presence of alcohol on board your watercraft to observing your behavior. If a serious accident is caused, officials will check all operators involved for drug or alcohol intoxication.

Boating While Intoxicated

Land or Sea: Which is more dangerous?

The U.S. Coast Guard goes so far as to say that operating a boat under the influence of alcohol is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated on land. The reason for this is that there are already factors that impair the boat operator's judgment and coordination. The motion of the boat, engine noise, exposure to sun and wind, as well as the vibration of the engine increase the confusion and impairment that one would usually get from alcohol consumption. Not only have that, but drivers on land had a vast deal more experience driving. It is estimated that the average boat operator spends only 110 hours on the water every year, compared to motor vehicle drivers who having been driving for decades

The Main Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife gives information regarding the boating laws in Portland. It is against the law to operate or try to operate a boat while you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. If the boat operator is over the age of 21, they could be arrested if their blood alcohol content is 0.08% or above. As Portland operates under the zero tolerance law, if an individual under the age of 21 is found to have any amount of alcohol in their system, they will be arrested immediately. As this is a criminal offense, the individual will not simply be given a ticket. They could be put into jail and fined thousands of dollars. If the law enforcement officer believes that you are under the influence of alcohol, you will be asked to submit to a blood test.

Maine BUI Defense Attorney

As in OUI cases, a BUI charge is defensible. The experienced defense attorneys at WTB Law know the best ways to fight these charges. One of the most common BUI defenses is to question the validity of the blood-alcohol testing equipment. These tests have been proven to not be 100% accurate and our BUI lawyers can use this knowledge to your advantage.

If you are facing a charge for Boating Under the Influence, call our firm now. You will speak to an attorney who will answer your questions and ease your mind. We will help you make the important decisions in your case and help your through every step of the process.

If you have been charged in Maine with Boating Under the Influence, call our firm and speak to a BUI lawyer right away. You have options available and our attorneys will explain them to you. Call us now to get started.


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