The number of South Carolinians who engage in boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol (BUI) has increased so much that approximately 34% of boating fatalities per year are caused by BUI’s. Because the motion of the waves and dehydrating effect of the sun and heat may result in faster intoxication on a boat rather than on land, law enforcement is cracking down on intoxicated boaters through routine “safety checks” on waterways. The dangers associated with intoxication on the water not only impair your ability to operate a watercraft, but also increase the risk of falling overboard or drowning. For these reasons, BUI has become a primary public safety concern. If law enforcement suspects you are impaired while operating a watercraft, you may be arrested or forced to take a breathalyzer test. Although occurring less commonly, BUI arrests are comparable to charges for driving under the influence (DUI)—a conviction for a BUI charge can similarly result in suspended privileges, fines, imprisonment and a criminal record.
While boating on a sunny day and alcohol consumption go hand in hand for many, BUI is treated as a “zero tolerance” offense that requires minimal evidence to be charged. The gravity of BUI charges can be as serious as a DUI arrest and have the potential to turn into a criminal conviction. At Truslow & Truslow, we know BUI charges can be daunting—fortunately, our BUI attorneys are well-versed in laws pertaining to boating while intoxicated and can provide an effective defense to minimize the damage of a BUI charge.
After accumulating 12 points, the DMV could possibly suspend your license!
To be convicted of a BUI, the arresting officer must prove that you were “materially and appreciably” impaired, and therefore unfit to operate a watercraft. Criminal charges for a BUI rely on the defendant’s conviction history and whether great bodily injury resulted from the intoxication. If convicted, penalties for a misdemeanor BUI charge include:
You may be charged with a felony BUI if your intoxication causes great bodily harm or death to another. These crimes carry criminal penalties of 1 – 25 years imprisonment or a $5,000 – $10,000 fine.
Though a BUI charge can be intimidating, the skilled BUI lawyers at Truslow & Truslow can help you through this distressing time and may be able to provide knowledgeable representation. If you or someone you know is facing BUI charges, call our Columbia offices at (803) 256-6276 to receive support in your case.