With Memorial Day right around the corner, the unofficial beginning of summer will mean more people out on the lakes and waterways enjoying the weather in boats. Unfortunately, many boaters will mix alcohol and boating. For those who are caught drinking and boating, they face serious penalties under Pennsylvania’s boating under the influence laws.
What is Boating Under the Influence?
Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is like Driving Under the Influence (DUI), but the impaired person is operating a watercraft instead of a motor vehicle. The laws for Operating a Watercraft Under the Influence are much different from the laws governing impaired driving. The “legal” blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for BUI is different from the legal limit in a DUI case. BUI charges are separated into three tiers based on the BAC content of the boat operator. It should be noted that anyone who refuses to submit to BAC testing is subject to Tier 3 penalties.
BUI Tier Level 1
Tier 1 covers BAC levels less than .10 for alcohol or drugs. A conviction under Tier 1 carries six months of probation and a $300 fine for a first offense. For a second and third offense, you will serve jail time and pay a higher fine. Second offenses are punished by five days in jail and a fine between $300 and $2,500. For a third offense, you will serve ten days in jail and pay a fine between $500 and $5,000.
BUI Tier Level 2
Tier 2 covers BAC levels between .10 and .16 for drugs or alcohol. A conviction of a first offense carries mandatory jail time of 48 hours and a fine of $500 to $5,000. A second offense is punished by 30 days in jail and a fine of $750 to $5,000. If you are convicted of a third offense under Tier 2, you will serve 90 days in jail and pay a fine of $1,500 to $10,000.
BUI Tier Level 3
Tier 3 covers BAC levels over .16 for alcohol or drugs. Tier 3 carries the most severe penalties with a minimum jail sentence of 72 hours and a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 for a first offense. Conviction of a second Tier 3 offense carries a punishment of 90 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. For a third offense, you will serve one year in jail and pay a $2,500 fine.
Underage Boating Under the Influence
For boaters under the age of 21 years, the legal BAC is .02 of alcohol or drugs. An underage boater with a BAC of .02 or higher is subject to Tier 2 penalties.
Call an Erie BUI Defense Attorney Immediately
If you are facing a BUI charge, don’t assume that you will receive the least severe penalty or that you can take a plea to get a lesser sentence. BUI is taken as seriously as DUI because boating and drinking can result in tragic accidents. You should treat a BUI just like a DUI — call an experienced criminal defense attorney for help.
Contact The Travis Law Firm toll-free at (800) 401-2066 to schedule a free legal consultation with one of our BUI defense attorneys.