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Boating Under the Influence

If you’ve ever headed out on the water in your boat after having a few drinks, you might not have realized that boating while intoxicated is a crime. Both boating while intoxicated or BWI as well as boating under the influence or BUI are serious crimes. Both these crimes fall under New York Navigation Laws.

Boating While Intoxicated

The New York Navigation Laws §49-A and B states that no person shall operate a vessel while intoxicated. That includes drugs as well as alcohol. Under the influence is having a blood alcohol content of .10 percent while operating a recreational vessel. It includes .04 percent for a public one.

If you are detained, the officers will request that you consent to having your breath analyzed. They might also check urine, blood or saliva to learn the blood alcohol level. The result of that test can lead you to be arrested for a BWI or BUI.

Charged with a BUI or BWI

If you’ve been in an accident, the police might have reasonable cause to arrest you if they suspect you’re under the influence. They’ll ask you to submit to a breath test to determine whether you’ve had too much to drink. While you can refuse, that might cause the officer to immediately revoke your ability to drive your boat. It will be written in the report that you refused to have your breath tested. When your right to operate your boat has been revoked, you’re entitled to a hearing.

During the hearing, there are certain issues that will be addressed.

  • Did the police have reasonable cause to believe you were driving under the influence?
  • Did the police make a lawful arrest?
  • Were you given warning about the results of a refusal?
  • Did you still refuse to submit to testing?

Penalties of a Conviction

Conviction of a BUI or BWI means that you could spend up to 90 days in the county jail. You might be fined between $350 and $500. In some cases, both of those punishments could take place.

If this is not your first offense, and it’s happened in the last 10 years, you might be convicted of a misdemeanor, which can lead to up to a year in jail or a fine between $500 to $1,500. In some cases, both outcomes are possible.

Along with possible jail time and fines, your license will be suspended for 6 months. If this is not your first offense in the past 10 years, you could lose your ability to operate a vessel for 24 months.

Impact on License to Drive a Motor Vehicle

An arrest, charge or conviction of boating while impaired or boating while intoxicated doesn’t impact your ability to drive a motor vehicle currently. Refusing to submit to a field sobriety test while boating will not have an impact on your license to drive a vehicle either.

There are strict guidelines and massive crackdowns on people who are boating while intoxicated. The penalties are severe too. If you’ve been arrested or charged with operating a vessel under the influence or while intoxicated, you’ll need a lawyer who knows exactly how to keep you out of jail. A skilled attorney might also be able to help you hold onto your license and avoid heavy fines.