Can I Get A DUI Driving A Boat In Louisiana?
Drinking and driving any motor vehicle can lead to serious emotional, physical, and legal consequences. While many people know the laws surrounding drinking and driving a car, drinking and driving a boat may be less understood. However, if you are operating a boat under the influence and are apprehended by law enforcement, it is crucial that you understand the law and your rights.
What is a BUI?
In Louisiana, boating under the influence intoxicated is known as a BUI. The state law for a BUI is the same as it is for a DUI. That is, it is illegal to operate a boat if the individual has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. For an individual under the age of 21, it is illegal to operate a boat with a BAC of .02 or greater. BAC measures the amount of alcohol content in your blood and can be tested with a breathalyzer, urine sample, or blood test.
Under state law, it is also illegal for an owner or operator of a boat to allow or knowingly permit anyone who is under the influence of illegal substances or alcohol from operating the boat.
What are the Penalties?
For a first offense, a BUI can result in 10 days-6 months in jail and between $300-$1,000 in fines. A judge can reduce jail time to 48 hours or request 32 hours of community service instead of a jail sentence, this is something our criminal defense attorneys can help negotiate. The judge can order other conditions such as participating in a substance abuse program. The penalties become severe for having a BAC .16 or higher, the judge cannot substitute the sentence and the individual must serve at least 48 hours in jail.
A second, third, and fourth offense brings escalating consequences. For example, a second offense can result in a fine of $750-$1,000. A third offense can lead to imprisonment between 1-5 years. Finally, for a fourth offense, the individual can have their license suspended for up to 4 years.
A key difference between a BUI and a DUI is that there are also specific penalties that relate to careless operation of a boat which can carry a fine of $300 or less or imprisonment for 30 days or less. When operating a boat under the influence, it can often times also violate state boating laws. Violations include, but are not limited to:
- A vessel passing head on has to keep to their respective right;
- Motorboats must maintain a direct course when passing sailboats;
- The boat operator must maintain a proper lookout;
- A vessel must use warnings signs in fog or weather conditions that restrict visibility; and
- No boat operator should be driving in excess of the established speed or wake zone.
How Can Palazzo Law Firm Help?
Our New Orleans criminal lawyers are prepared to fight for you. For example, we can determine which defenses to raise against your charges. Call 504-433-1442 for a free consultation today where we will listen to your side of the story and help educate you about a path forward to fight your charges.