Yes, you can be charged with BUI without driving the boat. However, if the arrest or charges were unlawful or you were not the boat owner/driver, you might be able to have your charges reduced or dismissed.
If you are facing a boating under the influence (BUI) charge, you might want to enlist the help of a criminal defense lawyer to review your case and see if there is any legal strategy available to you to defend your case.
Boat Operators Must Abide by Boating Laws in Their State
Most states have defined boating laws that boat operators and owners must follow if they decide to set out in the water on a vessel, especially if the vessel is also carrying passengers. When it comes to alcohol consumption, boat passengers may consume alcohol freely if they are not operating the boat. However, boat operators must follow state regulations and keep their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels within state limits.
According to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), in many states, boat operators with a BAC level of 0.08% or higher may be charged with BUI or boating while intoxicated (BWI). However, in other states, operators may be charged for having a BAC level as low as 0.01% or consuming any alcohol at all.
If you get convicted of a BUI offense, it might affect your driving privileges. For example, people who get convicted of BUI in Texas might risk having their driver’s licenses suspended or revoked, according to the NASBLA.
Boat Operators Can Be Wrongfully Accused of or Arrested for BUI
Marine law enforcement officers may have BUI checkpoints, where they inspect a vessel to determine if the operator is still legally within their limits to drive the boat. However, not every state has written laws that give marine law enforcement the right to utilize BUI checkpoints to inspect boats. You can check the NASBLA – State Boating Laws listing to determine if this applies to your case.
One aspect of BUI cases that is often flawed is the standardized field sobriety tests that boat operators must complete when suspected of alcohol consumption. However, operators who have been out in the sun for several hours might appear to be under the influence when they are not. Some signs might be misconstrued as alcohol intoxication, such as:
- Reddened skin or sunburn due to sun exposure
- Inability to balance on the boat deck due to water movement
- Reddened eyes due to wind and sun glare
- Nausea and vomiting due to seasickness
- Delirium or lightheadedness due to dehydration from being out in the sun for too long
If you performed a breathalyzer or blood test, your attorney may examine your test results in relation to the BUI report and determine if you were wrongfully accused of operating a boat while intoxicated. They might be able to refute these claims by explaining how your appearance was misinterpreted as intoxication.
A Defense Attorney Can Examine Your Arrest
You still have rights when you get arrested for BUI. If your constitutional rights were violated during your arrest and/or interrogation, your defense attorney might be able to challenge the arrest and nullify the charges.
Defense lawyers perform various services to help their clients fight against charges, such as:
- Reviewing the facts of the defendant’s case
- Gathering evidence to support the defendant’s claims about the alleged criminal act
- Analyzing and refuting the prosecuting attorney’s evidence and case arguments
- Speaking with witnesses to the alleged offense
- Explaining your rights and potential penalties to you, including whether you should settle for a plea deal
- Representing you in court, arbitration, or plea negotiations
The relationship you have with your criminal defense lawyer should be honest and transparent, meaning you should be able to ask them any questions about the criminal defense system and the charges you realistically face in your case. A BUI can be a serious charge in some states, so you should always strive to work with a criminal defense law firm you trust.
Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer from the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg
If you or a loved one was charged with BUI, reach out to the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg to take on your case. BUIs can be unlawfully given out to boaters, so hiring a criminal defense attorney to examine your case may be in your interest. If you were charged with BUI without driving the boat or without being intoxicated at the time of arrest, an attorney from our law firm may be able to defend your case to potentially have your charges reduced or dismissed.
Call (214) 696-9253 today for a free case evaluation and learn how a criminal defense attorney from the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg may be able to help you.