Boating Under The Influence in Rhode Island
Like driving while drunk, boating under the influence in Rhode Island is a serious crime that can have fatal consequences. According to Operation Dry Water, a nationwide campaign devoted to raising awareness of BUI, alcohol use is the leading factor contributing to deadly boating accidents; it was involved in at least 15% of fatal accidents in 2016, and likely many more collisions that caused injuries or property damage.
Many boat operators fail to appreciate the risks of boating under the influence since they figure they are isolated on the water, but situations can arise even far out in open water where operators must react quickly and smoothly. The environment out on the water, with bright sun and strong winds, can also mask the effects of alcohol, leading boaters to sometimes literally go overboard.
As with driving under the influence, the maximum legal blood alcohol content while boating is 0.08%, and the consequences vary significantly depending on whether the defendant been arrested for it before, and how far they are over the limit. First-time offenders may receive a suspension of their boating license, a fine, a boating safety or substance abuse course, and in some cases community service or jail time. Second and third-time offenders are eligible for the same punishments, but with larger fines, longer suspensions, and much longer prison or community service sentences. Third-time offenders face mandatory felony charges, which can significantly impact their work and civic lives.
Prison time is a very real possibility for BUI defendants; even first-time offenders face up to one year if their BAC was over 0.10%, and third-time defendants can get a maximum of five years. That’s why if you’ve been charged with boating under the influence, you need an experienced attorney to help arrange for the best defense. In many BUI cases, prosecutors or law enforcement can be overzealous in their accusations, and quality representation can make the difference between a fair or excessive sentence.
Next time you head out for a day on the water, enjoy yourself, but drink responsibly. If you need legal defense for boating under the influence in Rhode Island or other charges, contact Rory Munns today at 401-229-5544.