Boating under the influence (BUI) or boating while intoxicated (BWI) is treated much like DUI-DWI in most states, and in most circumstances, there are the same possible charges of BUI-BWI as there are DUI-DWI.
Boating Under the Influence

The State of Georgia considers a BUI very similar to a DUI and therefore many of the same penalties are put into place upon a conviction. In fact, if you are convicted of a BUI, this is priorable, which means that if you are charged with a DUI within a specified time period, this is considered a second DUI offense. A BUI conviction can result in jail time, fines, community service, boating safety classes, alcohol education classes and more.

There is little case law on the subject, because few trials go on to an appeal that would be recorded so as to establish case law. However, because of the similarities between BUI-BWI and DUI-DWI it is likely the courts would apply the same thought process and legal reasoning to both situations.

BUI Less Safe and Per Se

One form of BUI-BWI is a “less safe” offense, where you just have to be adjudged to be less safe because of alcohol while operating a boat. A sample statute regarding this type of offense is that no person shall operate, navigate, steer or drive any moving vessel, or be in actual physical control of any moving vessel, nor shall any person manipulate any moving water skis, moving aquaplane, moving surf board, or similar moving device while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it is less safe for that person to operate, navigate, steer or drive any moving vessel, moving water skis, moving aquaplane, moving surf board, or similar moving device.

Another form of BUI-BWI is a per se offense – that is, it is automatically illegal for you to operate a boat if your blood alcohol level is at a specified level or higher. A sample statute regarding this type of offense is that no person shall operate, navigate, steer or drive any moving vessel, or be in actual physical control of any moving vessel, nor shall any person manipulate any moving water skis, moving aquaplane, moving surf board, or similar moving device while that person’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 grams or more at any time within three hours after such operating, navigating, steering or driving any moving vessel, moving water skis, moving aquaplane, moving surf board, or similar moving device. At least one state still has a 0.10 gram per se level.

Boating Under the Influence of Drugs

One form of BUI-BWI is a “less safe” offense where you just have to be adjudged to be less safe because of drugs while operating a boat. A sample statute regarding this type of offense is that no person shall operate, navigate, steer or drive any moving vessel, or be in actual physical control of any moving vessel, nor shall any person manipulate any moving water skis, moving aquaplane, moving surf board, or similar moving device while under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for that person to operate, navigate, steer or drive any moving vessel, moving water skis, moving aquaplane, moving surf board, or similar moving device.

It can be inherently illegal for you to operate a boat if you have specified drugs in your system, such as marijuana or other controlled substances. A sample statute regarding this type of offense is that no person shall operate, navigate, steer or drive any moving vessel, or be in actual physical control of any moving vessel, nor shall any person manipulate any moving water skis, moving aquaplane, moving surf board, or similar moving device while there is any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance in a person’s urine, blood or both, including metabolites and derivatives of each, without regard to whether or not there is any alcohol present.

It could be argued that any of the above drug statutes that make it illegal to operate a boat but do not specify the particular drugs involved could include the use of an inhalant or a noxious vapor. A few states are more specific and a sample statute reads in part that a person commits the crime of driving while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, inhalant, or controlled substance if the person operates or drives a motor vehicle or operates an aircraft or a watercraft.

BUI Alcohol and Drugs Combination

Yet another form of BUI-BWI is a “less safe” offense where you just have to be adjudged to be less safe because of any combination of drugs while operating a boat. A sample statute regarding this type of offense is that no person shall operate, navigate, steer or drive any moving vessel, or be in actual physical control of any moving vessel, nor shall any person manipulate any moving water skis, moving aquaplane, moving surf board, or similar moving device while under the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to the extent that it is less safe for that person to operate, navigate, steer or drive any moving vessel, moving water skis, moving aquaplane, moving surf board, or similar moving device.

Contact a Boating Under the Influence Attorney Today

If you or someone you know has recently been arrested for a BUI in Georgia, it’s important you contact our law firm immediately. As previously mentioned, this is a serious criminal defense and we will need time to prepare your defense.