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A BUI could affect your driver's license, too

DUIs have the potential to significantly impact your life if you're not cautious. In fact, it's possible to get a DUI on land and in the water. If you plan to go boating, remember that alcohol, while not prohibited while driving, can still get you into trouble. If you drink and end up with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher, you'll still face charges and penalties for being intoxicated behind the wheel of your vessel.

The risks to you while driving intoxicated are high in the water or on land. While you may feel there are fewer potential hazards on the water, that's not necessarily the case. The potential for hitting sand banks, debris and other boaters makes it dangerous to drive while intoxicated.

Is New York harsh on those who boat while intoxicated?

Yes, and the laws have been made more stringent and penalties more significant over the years because of fatalities on the water. If you are intoxicated and arrested, you'll face a BWI (boating while intoxicated) charge and potentially face civil fines and the loss of your license. If you injure someone, there is a risk of going to prison, just as you would in a drunk driving crash on land.

Why is drinking considered more dangerous on the water?

It's more dangerous for a number of reasons, but the primary factors include:

  • The motion of the boat, which increases instability
  • The noise from the water and engine, which block sirens, speech and other sounds that could help you avoid a crash
  • Heat and sun, which lead to dehydration and boater's fatigue

Of course, your ability to drive the boat well is also affected when you're impaired.

What happens if you're convicted of boating while intoxicated?

If you are convicted of boating while intoxicated, you likely will face a traffic ticket along with the potential for a criminal record. You could have your boating license revoked and could have your driver's license (for any road vehicle) suspended or revoked as well, depending on the number of times you've driven while intoxicated and the results of your actions.

If you're a commercial boater, you could lose your license and ability to work in your career of choice. For this reason, anyone who is on the water should avoid drinking and driving. It simply isn't worth the risk to your driver's license and criminal record.

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Suffolk County Defenders Association New York State Defenders Association | Founded 1967 New York State Bar Association Suffolk County Bar Association | NY 1908

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