Boating While Impaired (BWI) and Boating Under the Influence of Alcohol (BUI)

Boating is an activity that is enjoyed by many in the greater Charleston area in the harbor, the rivers and the lakes in the surrounding areas. Many people enjoy boating and include drinking alcoholic beverages as a routine practice on their boat. Please be careful out there while having a good time. Read below to gain a better understanding of the current law regarding boating and alcohol.

Enjoying a beer on the water can be a fun time with friends, but can have some drastic legal consequences. Know the law and know your rights. And, when anything happens please contact the Law Offices of Thomas A. Smith to protect your rights. 

Enjoying a beer on the water can be a fun time with friends, but can have some drastic legal consequences. Know the law and know your rights. And, when anything happens please contact the Law Offices of Thomas A. Smith to protect your rights. 

Generally speaking the penalties for Boating While Intoxicated or Drunk Boating is 48 hours to 30 days in jail, a revocation of the right to drive a boat for 6 months and a $200 fine for a first offense. A boater safety class will also have to be taken and paid for before a person can return to driving a boat. The penalties continue to increase in severity with each BUI charge. BWI is considered a misdemeanor until there is an injury to persons or property resulting from Driving While Impaired. 

According to the "South Carolina Boating and Safety Act of 1999" it is unlawful for a person to operate a moving motorized water device or water device under sail upon the waters of this State while under the:

  1. influence of alcohol to the extent that the person's faculties to operate are materially and appreciable impaired;
  2. influence of any other drug or a combination of other drugs or substances which cause impairment to the extent that the person's faculties to operate are materially and appreciable impaired; or
  3. combined influence of alcohol and any other drug or drugs, or substances which cause impairment to the extent that the person's faculties to operate are materially and appreciably impaired.

 

 

The law goes on to state that In any criminal prosecution where a test or tests were administered pursuant to this chapter, the amount of alcohol in the person's blood at the time of the alleged violation, as shown by chemical analysis of the person's breath or other body fluids, gives rise to the following inferences:

  1. If there was at that time .05% or less by weight of alcohol in the person's blood, it is presumed conclusively that the person was not under the influence of alcohol.
  2. If there was at that time in excess of .05% but less than .08% by weight of alcohol in the person's blood, this fact does not give rise to any inference that the person was or was not under the influence of alcohol, but this fact may be considered with other competent evidence in determining the guilt or innocence of the person. 
  3. If there was at that time .08% or more by weight of alcohol in the person's blood, it may be inferred that the person was under the influence of alcohol.

Essentially BWI or BUI (Boating Under the Influence) uses the same standard used on the roadways of this state. If you blow a .08 BAC on the DataMaster you will be presumed to be under the influence of alcohol. If you refuse to blow the prosecution will have less evidence against you, but you will also automatically lose your right to drive a boat for 6 months. 

Operation of a Boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs resulting in property damage, great bodily injury or death is considered a felony and carries much stiffer penalties. For a first offense a person is looking at a $5000 - $10,000 fine, and 30 days to 15 years in prison. 15 years in prison is a long time for a good day gone bad on a boat. Please be careful on the waterways surrounding the Charleston Area. If you have any questions, or have been charged with a crime including Drunk Boating, please contact the Law Offices of Thomas A. Smith immediately.

 


 If you have questions regarding your rights while on a boat or watercraft, please call the Law Offices of Thomas A. Smith as soon as possible. I handle matters including Criminal Defense, DUI Defense (including Boating), Drug Related Defense, Violent CrimesPersonal Injury Claims, Auto Accident ClaimsFamily Law Matters, and many more in the extended Charleston, SC Lowcountry region which includes: James Island, Mt. Pleasant, Folly Beach, Johns Island, Daniel Island, West Ashley, Summerville, North Charleston, Hanahan, Goose Creek, Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, Seabrook Island, Kiawah Island, Edisto Island, Edisto Beach, Moncks Corner, Dorchester, Ladson, Wadmalaw Island, Mc Clellanville, Awendaw, Huger, Ridgeville, Jacksonboro, Ravenel, Hollywood, Pinopolis, Adams Run & Cottageville. Includes Charleston County, Berkeley County, Dorchester County, and Colleton County.