Boating Under the Influence
Going to the river is a time to relax and unwind with family and friends. And for many of us, that might also mean the pleasure of indulging in a couple of beers. Responsible drinking is completely legal in Pennsylvania, but Boating Under the Influence is an offense that is taken extremely seriously under Pennsylvania law. Just like drivers in Pennsylvania, boaters can be asked by law enforcement to submit to a chemical test in order to determine their BAC if they are suspected to be operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Any person who is convicted of a BUI are subjected to costly fines and up to a year in prison, which is why it is important to have a Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney handle your case.
Pennsylvania may not border the Atlantic Ocean, but there are hundreds of miles of beautiful waterways across the commonwealth for us all to enjoy. However, as we do, we must remember that there are rules which must be adhered to. When navigating through the waters of Pennsylvania, you must behave responsibly, as is required on our roadways. While drinking is permissible on boats, operating the vehicle while under the influence is just as unacceptable as Driving Under the Influence.
Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is a crime. If you have been charged with BUI, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer. The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. can defend you against either a BUI or refusal, and, in the process, help to mitigate the significant fines and penalties.
BUI Is Similar to DUI
Although it is not permissible in Pennsylvania State Parks or on certain waterways, for the most part drinking on the water is allowed. This is contrary to the rule on land, where drinking in a car or other motor vehicle is absolutely not permitted. However, it remains a constant in either case that you may not operate a vehicle, on land or sea, when under the influence of alcohol. If an officer has reasonable suspicion that you are under the influence, you may be arrested for a BUI – just as would be the case with a DUI.
An officer who is investigating a possible BUI is looking for the same visual clues as an officer approaching a potential DUI. The odor of alcohol emanating from the vehicle operator, a lack of visual or physical acuity, and erratic, reckless, or careless behavior are all sound indicators that the operator may be under the influence of alcohol.
A BUI Arrest
After approaching the vehicle, the officer will request that the operator adhere to certain field sobriety tests as well as a BAC test. If an individual refuses, he or she will be issued a refusal. When driving a car, the legal ramifications will be the equivalent of a DUI itself. However, such is not the case with a boating operator. A refusal will not result in a loss of license, though fines may be increased accordingly.
For those who do submit to testing, field sobriety tests will give the officers an indication of intoxication, as will a breath alcohol test. If arrested for a BUI, a more accurate blood alcohol test will be administered. A result between 0.05% and 0.08% will be used as an evidentiary factor against the defendant, while a result in excess of 0.08% will result in a BUI.
Despite no loss of license, boating privileges may be rescinded for up to a year, imprisonment of up to two years is possible, and fines will be between $500 and $7,500. Fines may be increased based on past refusals, despite the fact that loss of license is not available to the prosecution. This is an important factor for all those accused of BUI to be aware of, and to consider as they move forward with their case.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
Ultimately, you are still being charged with a 2nd Degree Misdemeanor, regardless of your license status. While people are often primarily concerned with a potential loss of license upon being charged with a DUI, the criminal nature of this charge is significant, in that it will remain on your record for the rest of your life. If you are found guilty, you will be treated as someone with a criminal record.
Additionally, following your arrest, your boat will be impounded, and the process of collecting your vehicle may be more difficult than a vehicle at an impound lot on land. Combine this with the aforementioned fines, and you are looking at potentially very costly situation. The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. can help you to mitigate these consequences. Call today to Schedule a Free Consultation with one of our Criminal Defense Attorneys. We will discuss how we can defend your rights, and achieve the best results possible in your case.
This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.