Boating While Intoxicated

Many people think nothing of having a few beers while on the lake or river. However, it’s important to be safe while driving on the open water. Alcohol and drugs can cause serious impairment to balance, judgment, vision, reaction times, and mental capabilities.

You are probably aware of laws prohibiting drinking and driving. Maybe someone you know has been charged with a DUI. However, Illinois also has laws regarding boating while intoxicated.

If you have been charged with or arrested for boating while intoxicated, time is of the essence. You need to act quickly in order to maintain your legal rights. Hire a Chicago DUI lawyer from O’Meara Law to defend your case. Call us today at 312-909-0706.

What is Boating While Intoxicated?

In Illinois, you can be charged with a DUI if your blood alcohol level is at 0.08 or above. The same laws apply to boating. If you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol while boating, you could face serious penalties, including fines and jail time.

Boating under the influence laws apply to all types of boats, including yachts, sailboats, fishing boats, sailboards, and personal watercrafts.

In Illinois, your operation of a boat on public waters implies consent to be tested for drugs or alcohol should be arrested for operating a boat while under the influence. If a law enforcement officer has reasonable cause to arrest you and you refuse to be tested, you’ll lose your boating privileges for two years.

Elements of Boating While Intoxicated

According to Illinois law, you can be charged with boating while intoxicated if one of the following occurs:

  • Your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 or higher
  • You appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • You have any amount of a drug or substance in the blood or urine resulting from the use of cannabis or a controlled substance

If authorities have reasonable suspicion that you are boating while intoxicated, you could be pulled over. During busy times – such as holidays – authorities may set up DUI checkpoints to check every boater for signs of intoxication. In fact, holiday weekends – such as Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the Fourth of July – tend to be more dangerous due to the number of boats on the water. If you’ve been drinking, you’re likely to be caught during these times, when authorities are in force more than ever.

Penalties of Boating While Intoxicated

Boating accidents are not uncommon, with alcohol and drugs contributing to the many of them. In fact, most fatal boating accidents involve alcohol use, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).

A first-time conviction of boating under the influence may lead to imprisonment for up to one year, as well as a fine for as much as $2,500. The penalties become more severe for repeat offenders.

While some boating under the influence charges are misdemeanors, the charges elevate to a Class 4 felony if someone is seriously injured, if the driver operated the boat with a suspended license, or if the operator had a previous conviction. A Class 4 felony is the least serious of felonies. It is punishable by one to three years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.

The penalty increases to a Class 2 felony if the operator kills someone while boating under the influence. A Class 2 felony is punishable by three to seven years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

Collateral Consequences of Boating While Intoxicated

An arrest for boating under the influence is nothing to laugh about. A conviction can have serious consequences. You’ll have this charge on your criminal record for a long time. If you work as a recreational boat operator, you could have your license suspended or revoked.

If this was not your first time being arrested for boating under the influence, you could face enhanced fines and jail time. The same applies to boat operators who give alcohol to minors.
A boating under the influence charge can not only cause you to lose your boating license but it can also affect your driver’s license. You may have to pay increased insurance rates for such a criminal charge.

Getting Legal Help

A boating while intoxicated conviction can be just as serious as a DUI. You could live with the consequences for a long time and your life can be negatively affected in many ways.
Fortunately, there are defenses that can help your case. You may be able to prove that you were actually not under the influence. In addition, you may have been pulled over without probable case. There are other defenses that may apply to your specific claim, so make sure you get a Chicago DUI lawyer who can help you right away.

O’Meara Law has decades of experience helping those accused of serious crimes regain their freedoms. Michael O’Meara will examine your case and spend the time necessary to get your penalties reduced or charges dropped. If you’ve bene accused of boating while intoxicated, call O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706.