Drinking Booze and Driving Boats Don’t Mix

Boating Under the Influence

A hot summer day under the sun, while boating on the lake, can be one of the best experiences a person can enjoy and is often regarded as a classic American pastime. Often, these experiences are accompanied by fun, good food, and possibly alcohol. However, these joyous experiences can quickly turn negative when the operator of the boat is arrested for boating under the influence. Operating any vehicle while under the influence, either on land or water, is extremely dangerous and could result in serious injury or death. However, even if no one is physically harmed, the watercraft operator could be faced with fines, possible jail time, and loss of boating permit, if they are found to be boating under the influence.

Operating a vessel on Mississippi public waters while intoxicated is a serious offense with potentially serious legal consequences. The Mississippi Alcohol Boating Safety Act has made it unlawful to operate a watercraft on the public waters of the state of Mississippi while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any other substance which has impaired the person’s ability to operate a watercraft. Much like while operating a motor vehicle, there are potential long-lasting penalties if convicted of boating under the influence.

What law enforcement agency can arrest a person for BUI?

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife FIsheries and Parks (MDWFP) has the primary BUI enforcement responsibility. However, any state law enforcement agency is authorized to arrest for BUI. Additionally, BUI’s can and often do, originate from typical random boating safety checks.

BUI Arrest Requirements

The BUI requirements only apply to boats or watercraft 25 horsepower or higher. Someone under the influence of a substance that impairs a person’s ability to operate a watercraft can be guilty of a BUI.  This may include any and all street drugs, marijuana, prescription drugs, and some over the counter medications such as cough syrup.

Additionally, someone under the influence of alcohol with an alcohol concentration of eight one-hundredths percent (.08%) or more is guilty of a BUI. The test is based off of a chemical analysis of breath, blood, or urine. However, unlike a DUK, the chemical test for a BUI must be administered within 3 hours of the stop.  Lastly, the same field sobriety tests used in dui investigations can also be used to help determine whether the vessel operator is under the influence.

BUI penalties

  • First time offenders of BUI may face up to a $1,000 fine and 24 hours in jail.
  • A second conviction within five years, can require a person to be fined up to $1,000, spend 48 hours to one year in jail, and will also lose the privilege of operating a vessel for one year. The penalties become even more severe for additional convictions.
  • A person boating while intoxicated who causes the death or serious injury of another person will be guilty of a felony.

Additionally, by operating a vessel on Mississippi waters, you have given implied consent to submit to a chemical or breath test by law enforcement for alcohol or drugs. Any refusal will subject the person to arrest, and the penalties described above. MS code section 59-23-5.

Enlist the help of a qualified attorney

When you are searching the state of Mississippi for a qualified, experienced BUI defense attorney, look no further than Vic Carmody jr., p.a. no matter the circumstances of your case, the sooner you get in touch with a qualified criminal defense attorney who has experience in BUI’s, the better chance you have at a favorable outcome for your case. Over the years, we have helped countless defendants who have been charged with BUI’s. Please call us for a free consultation today, and we can help you defend yourself in BUI in Mississippi.

Please also see us on mississippi-lawyers.com and view our reviews on avvo.com, superlawyers.com, and martindale.com. Our email address is vic@mississippi-lawyers.com, and our office phone number is (601) 948 – 4444 option 1.

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