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boating under the influence

Can You Actually Be Charged With “Boating While Intoxicated”?

Is Boating Under the Influence in Wisconsin really a thing?

Operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is considered operating while intoxicated, or OWI, in Wisconsin. This includes boat operation, as a boat is technically a vehicle that you guide by operating controls. However, boating while drunk or drugged carries a separate charge called “Boating Under the Influence,” or BUI. The BUI charge is similar in some ways to an OWI.

What Is Considered “Boating Under the Influence”?

BUIs are based on the same criteria as OWIs. You can be charged with a BUI if your blood alcohol level is at 0.08 or above in most cases. If you operate a commercial motorboat, then you can be charged if your BAC is at 0.04 or above. There’s also implied consent to take a drug or alcohol test administered by an authorized officer or other authority.

Does a BUI Affect Your Driver’s License?

This is where OWIs and BUIs diverge. BUIs do not affect your driver’s license. However, it’s not unusual for someone caught boating while drunk or drugged to actually try to drive home afterward, and then they can be charged with an OWI. In the past few years, lawmakers have looked at consolidating the two charges so that BUI penalties would be treated more like OWIs. So far, they haven’t changed anything, but keep an eye on the situation as the law could change quickly – and then your driver’s license could be at risk from a BUI charge.

What Other Penalties Would You Face?

Charges and penalties change as you rack up more BUIs. These range from ever-increasing fines to longer jail time. You may have to attend drug or alcohol assessments and a boating safety course, and even see your boat impounded. If you made the mistake of driving away after and were caught, you’d face penalties for both an OWI and the BUI.

If you’re facing a BUI charge, take it seriously and call Eisenberg Law Offices at (608) 256-8356. You’ll need the help of a lawyer to minimize the damage the charge can do to your life.