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wisconsin boating accidents

Boating Under the Influence | Wisconsin BUI Laws

Boating Under The Influence is a Crime in Wisconsin

Boating is a popular summer pastime in Wisconsin – for residents and visitors alike. In some cases, boaters will bring alcohol or drugs with them on their excursions. Like driving under the influence, boating under the influence (BUI) is illegal in the state and our waterways are regularly patrolled by conservation wardens and police patrol boats looking for drunk or high boaters.

BAC For Boating Under The Influence Same as OWI

In our state, boating under the influence has many of the same restrictions, fines, and penalties as driving under the influence (DUI) and can lead to charges of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI). Just like an OWI, boat operators can be charged if they have a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08 or higher; anyone operating a commercial motorboat is subject to more severe limits of .04 BAC. The repercussions of BUI include: fines, jail, and boat impoundment. Drug and alcohol testing for BUI is all but automatic as the state assumes that anyone operating a boat or watercraft has given consent to drug and alcohol testing by the authorities.

Fines range from $150-$300 for first-time offenders and may go up to $1,000 for second offenses. Second offenses carry a higher likelihood of jail time. Third time offenders face even steeper fines and longer jail sentences.

One way that a BUI differs from a DUI is that having a BUI on your record does not affect your boating privileges. However, you may have to participate in court-ordered drug or alcohol assessments or boating safety courses, even if you already have a certificate of completion of such a course.

Operation Dry Water

2008 saw some of the highest BUI-related deaths ever in the state. This has led to increased patrolling and enforcement and the creation of “Operation Dry Water”. Operation Dry Water was launched in 2009 for the purpose of educating boaters about the dangers of BUI while also significantly increasing enforcement efforts. The program seems to have worked as BUI statistics have dropped significantly since 2009.

Wisconsin OWI Attorneys Can Defend You In BUI Situations

OWIs that result from boating under the influence can be handled by OWI and DUI attorneys, like those at Eisenberg Law Offices in Madison. Our experienced team has been defending against OWI charges for over 30 years and know how to build the best defense possible for your situation. All of the facts will be explained to you and you’ll always know what options are available to you as your case proceeds.

If you have been charged with a BUI in Wisconsin, call Eisenberg Law Offices at 608-256-8356 or contact us by email at to arrange a free consultation with an OWI attorney.