Boating Under the Influence in Alabama
If it is suspected that anyone operating a boat on Alabama’s waterways is under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances, they must submit to a breathalyzer test or any other approved BAC testing. Refusing to submit to a field breath test or other state-approved tests will result in the same punitive action as drivers on state motorways detailed in Alabama state laws.
Boating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. As a result, Alabama imposes strict DUI penalties on boaters, just as it does on drivers of vehicles. A boating DUI can lead to jail time, fines, and other penalties similar to a DUI; however, a boating DUI is often referred to as a “BUI.”
If you are facing BUI charges, you must immediately contact an experienced Alabama DUI attorney. Birmingham DUI attorneys have represented many clients accused of BUI in Jefferson, Madison, and Shelby Counties, as well as throughout Alabama. We can use our legal experience to investigate potential defenses to avoid conviction or to negotiate a plea bargain to reduce the penalties you face. To learn more, call today to schedule a free consultation.
BUI – Boating DUI in Alabama
Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has compiled a list of Alabama boating rules and regulations. The law states that “no person shall drive or be in actual physical control of a vessel or manipulate any water skis, aquaplane, or any other marine transportation device,” according to their website’s boating rules and regulations, while:
- They have a blood alcohol level of.08 or higher.
- They are under the influence of alcohol, another controlled substance, or a combination of the two.
- They have been exposed to any substance that impairs physical or mental abilities.
This implies that even if your BAC is technically less than the legal limit of .08, you could be charged with a BUI if you are impaired in a way that makes operating your boat dangerous. It is also important to understand that if you are stopped by maritime law enforcement or the Coast Guard and asked to submit to a BAC test, you are required to do so because obtaining a license or operating a vehicle in Alabama implies that you give implied consent to having your blood alcohol level checked when there is reasonable cause to believe you are intoxicated.
In recent years, Alabama has cracked down on boating DUIs, as evidenced by their participation in Operation Dry Water, a summer event designed to raise awareness of BUI. During Operation Dry Water, marine law enforcement agents patrol the waterways the weekend before Independence Day to grab those who are boating while intoxicated and to inform the public about the enforcement of BUI rules. Many more people are at risk of a BUI arrest as a result of the new law enforcement effort to catch drunk drivers.
Penalties For A BWI
The results of an Alabama BUI are determined by the facts of the case. However, in general, a BUI is a class A misdemeanor, with the same potential penalties as an Alabama DUI:
It’s your first offense. A first-time BUI conviction can result in up to a year in jail and/or fines up to $2,100. Convicted boaters typically face a 90-day suspension of their boating privileges.
The second offense. If a BUI offender has a prior BUI conviction within five years of the current violation, the second offense carries a one-year jail sentence and fines ranging from $1,100 to $5,100. Second-time offenders must be sentenced to at least five days in jail or at least 30 days of community service. Convicted boaters typically face a one-year suspension of their boating privileges.
The third offense. If a BUI offender has at least two prior BUI convictions, regardless of how long ago the priors happened, the third offense holds a sentence of 60 days to one year in jail and fines ranging from $2,100 to $10,100. Convicted boaters typically face a three-year suspension of their boating privileges.
If a BUI offender had a passenger under the age of 14 or a BAC of.15% or higher, the judge must impose at least twice the normal penalties for the offense.
If you are one of those charged with the offense of boating under the influence, you do have legal options. In some cases, you can negotiate a plea bargain to reduce the criminal penalties you face, and if you are a first offender, you may be eligible for a diversion program. In many cases, however, defending yourself against a BUI charge by raising defenses such as a lack of probable cause to conduct a search or problems with the breath test that was administered to you may be a better option. If you want to avoid a boating DUI conviction, you should seek the assistance of an experienced Birmingham DUI lawyer.
Birmingham BUI Lawyers
Birmingham BUI Lawyers have successfully assisted many clients in successfully raising defenses in a BUI case in order to have charges dropped or a not-guilty verdict obtained. We can begin working with you to build evidence for a BUI defense or to negotiate a plea bargain as soon as we accept a case. That is why it is critical to contact an attorney as soon as you are aware that you will face boating DUI charges in Alabama. You can contact them toll-free, fill out a confidential online case evaluation form, or go to a downtown Birmingham DUI office.