Michigan’s many breathtaking waterways will soon fill up with boaters looking to cool off and relax, which may include having a few alcoholic beverages. However, you should be cautious not to have too much to drink, especially if you plan to get out on the water in your boat. You may end up facing boating under the influence (BUI) charges. This could really turn your spring and summer upside down.
Every state prohibits boaters from operating water vessels under the influence of drugs or alcohol just like they do with motorists driving cars. The U.S. Coast Guard enforces federal laws that prohibit boaters from operating their water vessels while impaired as well.
Why is law enforcement aggressive in prosecuting intoxicated boaters?
Law enforcement agents regularly circulate in bodies of water during busy times, looking for intoxicated boaters. They do so because they’re aware of how operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs can put you and your passengers’ lives at risk. Coast Guard data shows that nearly 33% of all recreational boating fatalities are attributable to alcohol use.
Alcohol impairment can impact a boater’s vision, coordination, balance and judgment. Some of these same concerns result in boaters falling overboard or their water vessels capsizing. An estimated 50% of boat accident deaths are attributable to the above-referenced concerns.
Implications associated with a BUI charge
Michigan law permits law enforcement officers to charge a boater who operates their water vessel with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more with a misdemeanor BUI. The court may assess fines and deprive you of your permit to operate a water vessel should a conviction occur. Prosecutors may file additional charges if someone gets hurt or killed during the commission of a crime.
A BUI conviction can have a significant impact on your life. You owe it to yourself to put up a strong defense in your case. A criminal defense attorney can advise you of your rights and steps you need to take to protect your interests.