Boating Under the Influence Basics: Charges and Consequences

The rules regulating the boating industry are very similar to those regulating automobiles. Therefore, when it comes to drinking alcohol, you must observe the same laws that your state gives you for driving a vehicle. As is the case with driving a vehicle on the roads, it is also against the law to operate a boat with a blood alcohol content or BAC of 0.08 or higher. It doesn’t matter what type of a boat it is; you are required to follow this rule

Boating Under the Influence Is a Federal Offense

Boating under the influence is a state offense, but it is also a federal offense. If you are arrested on this charge, federal authorities would give you a fine of $1,000. In some instances, you would also receive a jail sentence.

State Boating Under the Influence Charges

You may also receive consequences for operating a boat while under the influence from the state. As was mentioned above, several states have a law against operating a boat with a BAC equal to 0.08 or higher. If you are charged with this crime, the state might suspend your boating privileges or your license.

Some states place this charge on your driving record. You may be charged a fine and given a jail sentence. You might also be forced to enter into a substance abuse treatment program. Lastly, you would be in danger of having your boat seized and sold at auction.

Nevada Boating Laws

Nevada is one state that takes boating under the influence very seriously. If you are convicted on the charge of boating while intoxicated or BWI, you will be charged with a misdemeanor, and you will receive a fine of up to $1,000. You may also receive a 365-day jail sentence.

If you cause injury or death as a result of your impairment, you could be charged with felony boating under the influence. This charge is a Class B felony, and the prison sentence will be between two and 20 years. You would also receive a fine between $2,000 and $5,000.

About Homicide By Vessel

Nevada doesn’t use prior boating under the influence convictions in sentencing a current BUI conviction, but it does use prior convictions if a boater is arrested after causing someone’s death. This person would be charged with “homicide by vessel.” This is a Class A felony that may give you 10 years to life in prison.

The Seriousness of Boating Under the Influence

Boating under the influence is taken so seriously because it is even more dangerous to drive a boat while impaired by alcohol than it is to drive a car. When you are driving a boat, you need to be aware of several things at once, including things that may be underneath the water, other boats, people, and the water, currents and tides. Unlike roads, you don’t have lines in the water that tell you where you should and should not go.

According to the American Boating Association’s Boating Fatality Facts report, every year in the United States there are approximately 4,000 to 7,000 boating accidents, resulting in an average of around 700 deaths per year. Alcohol was the number one reason that these boating accidents occurred.

Just like for drivers of motor vehicles, boaters also must follow the implied consent laws of their states. Every state has an “implied consent law,” and these state that everyone must submit to a blood or breath test after being arrested on a boating under the influence charge. If you refuse, the suspension of your license or boating privileges might be longer than the consequences you would have received if you were convicted on a boating under the influence charge.