In 2003, it became a crime to operate a boat under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two. In most cases, boating under the influence (BUI) offenses carry the same penalties as a DUI offense. However, there are some differences between the two that you should be aware of if you own or operate a boat.
Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
Just like for operators of land vehicles, a person will be considered legally intoxicated while operating a boat if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 percent or higher. If you are under 21 years of age and are caught drinking while boating, the legal limit is a BAC of .02%. The Coast Guard is in charge of enforcing the BUI laws.
The penalties for a BUI are similar to those for a DUI in Connecticut. For a first offense, you risk a prison sentence of between two days and six months, a fine of $500-$1,000, 100 hours of community service, probation, and a suspension of your boating privileges that will last for one year.
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Second offenders face a jail sentence of between 120 days and two years, a $1,000-$4,000 fine, probation, 100 hours of community service, and a boating license suspension for three years.
A third or subsequent offense carries even greater consequences. You will receive a jail sentence of 1-3 years, with probation and 100 hours of community service, a fine of $2,000 to $8,000, and a permanent revocation of your boating license. Keep in mind that you have the right to refuse any test that the police officer asks you to take.
However, if convicted and you refused to take the test, the punishment will be greater than if you agreed to the test, given the implied consent law in Connecticut. This law states that when you choose to operate a vehicle – whether that be a land vehicle or a boat – you agree to get tested for drug or alcohol use if law enforcers deem it necessary.
If you have been arrested for boating under the influence (BUI), you should take the charge seriously. Today, boating under the influence is equivalent to driving under the influence. As a result, you will need someone to help you fight the BUI charge. To build the strongest defense, you should get in touch with a Connecticut BUI attorney.