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Boating Under the Influence in Maryland

Given Maryland’s long-standing history with maritime activities and all the local waterways, many of us will likely find ourselves at some point enjoying a relaxing weekend or spending some vacation time out on a boat. And for many of us, that might also mean enjoying a couple of cold beers or refreshing cocktails. Responsible drinking is perfectly legal in Maryland, but Boating Under the Influence (BUI) and Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) are charges that are taken extremely seriously and prosecuted to the fullest extent of Maryland law.

What is Boating Under the Influence?

Just like drivers in Maryland, boaters can be asked to submit to a chemical test to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC) if they are suspected of operating a boat while intoxicated. Members of the United States Coast Guard and Maryland Natural Resources Police do not need a reason to board your vessel before conducting such a test. The law says that any test result which indicates a BAC of 0.08 or greater will result in a BUI charge.

According to a 2013 report by the Maryland Natural Resources Police, alcohol was a factor in 12 percent of the boating accidents reported in Maryland in 2012. That year, there were 127 reported boating accidents, 65 of which resulted in injuries and 14 of which resulted in deaths.

According to the US Coast Guard, a boat operator is likely to become impaired more quickly than a driver of a vehicle and the use of alcohol is involved in about one-third of all recreational boating fatalities.

What are the penalties for boating under the influence in Maryland?

According to Maryland law, boaters convicted of operating water craft under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol face a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail. This is comparable to someone convicted of a second Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge. A second BUI conviction will see the possible fine and/or jail time time double.

Do implied-consent laws apply on the water?

Absolutely. Maryland law clearly states that when you elect to operate a vessel in Maryland waters you have automatically consented to be tested for drugs and alcohol by law enforcement officials if you are suspected of BUI. Any refusal to submit to a chemical test can result in the loss of your boating privileges for up to one year.

Does a BUI impact your ability to drive?

Fortunately, a drunken boating conviction does not impact your driving record in Maryland and will not impact the status of your Maryland driver’s license.

Experience Counts in Fighting Maryland BUIs.

Whether your problem is the possibility of steep fines and jail time as a result of a BUI charge, or perhaps a serious felony offense or expensive traffic violation, such legal troubles can impact your life in substantial ways. Retaining the services of an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney can greatly increase your odds of securing the best possible outcome in your case.

If you have questions and need some trusted advice, contact Maryland defense attorney Seth Okin. Your fist consultation is free and you can reach his Maryland law office any time of day, seven days a week, at (410) 782-0742 today.