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Denver Criminal Lawyer Explains Boating Under the Influence


May 23, 2018

Summer in Colorado means more people will be spending time outdoors and what better way to enjoy the warmer weather than by getting out on the water? With so many lakes in and around the Denver area, there are no shortages of great places to boat, waterski, and enjoy a few cold ones while gently rocking on the water. However, like all motorized vehicles, boating under the influence can easily get you a ticket and force you to start looking for the services of an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney. Before you head out in a boat, it’s important that you understand just what it means to be boating under the influence.

Boating Under the Influence Defined

Boating under the influence occurs anytime the person in control of the boat is found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher. However, in Colorado, using recreational marijuana or being high while boating can leave you facing the same legal charges as alcohol intoxication. If you are found to be under the influence while in control of a boat, even a non-motorized watercraft, you can be charged with a BUI.

How Police Monitor Activity On The Water

The most common way people are caught boating under the influence is through others reporting their activity on the water. Anyone who suspects someone of controlling the boat while under the influence can call and report the driver to the marina who will then ensure that the authorities are contacted. In peak season, many municipalities establish BUI checkpoints on the lake, allowing police to monitor activity in real time, reducing the number of alcohol-related accidents on the water significantly. However, if an officer is patrolling the lake, they can pull you over under suspicion of boating under the influence, regardless of whether or not someone else reported you.

If you are pulled over, you may be asked to perform a field sobriety test, just as you would on the road. Typically, officers rely on breathalyzer results rather than standard field sobriety checks as most of the tasks are impossible to perform within the confines of a watercraft. However, you may be asked to recite phrases to see if your speech is slurred or perform simple movements that would be easy for a sober person, even on the water. If you’re found to be boating under the influence, the officers have the right to arrest you and tow your boat to shore, just as they could if you were driving a regular vehicle.

What a Conviction Means

Boating under the influence is treated similarly to average DUI charges. Your boating license may be suspended, you may lose your driver’s license, and your insurance for both your commuter vehicle and your boat may increase. The punishments for boating under the influence are typically handled in the same way as punishments for DUIs. Depending on the severity of the charge, you may face fines, license suspension, and possibly jail time.

If you’ve been charged with a BUI, you don’t have to navigate the legal system on your own. Contact the DUI defense experts at The Law Office of John L. Buckley.