Punishment for Boating Under the Influence?

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on August 09, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Just because it happens on water, it doesn't mean there is no punishment for boating under the influence.

It may be included in the typical drunken driving laws, or it may be a separate statute altogether, but every state in this country (and Guam) limits just how much alcohol a person can have before it becomes illegal to steer a boat.

Officers are even tasked with the authority to "pull over" boaters and conduct in-the-water checkpoints.

Like drunken driving, boating under the influence comes with a host of punishments and a criminal record.

While it's unlikely that a citation will show up on your driving record, punishment for boating under the influence can be as minor as a fine, and as serious as jail.

You can also lose your boating license, be forced to take education classes and alcohol counseling, and be sentenced to community service.

If you cause an accident, you can also be held civilly liable for any damages.

Knowing that you may be punished for drinking while boating, you should consider taking a look at a state's laws before you party on the water.

Besides determining the maximum blood alcohol content level allowed, find out whether a boating license requires you to submit to a field sobriety test and/or to permit officers to board your boat without consent.

Also be sure to follow any safety requirements, as a failure to do so may cause law enforcement to seek you out.

But whatever you do, be safe. Punishment for boating under the influence is nothing when compared to punishment for recklessly injuring another person.

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