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Is it Illegal to Drink and Drive a Boat in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin Criminal Attorney explains Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

A nice day relaxing at the lake with barbecue and beer may sound like something that’s harmless, but add a boat into the mix, and you have a BUI charge just waiting to happen. Boating under the influence is just like driving under the influence: illegal. While there are some key differences in terms of punishment, BUI is not something to take lightly.

They Know You Think It’s Nothing

Wisconsin has a pretty robust drinking culture, so police, game wardens, and other officials are always on the lookout for potential BUI/DUI signs. Wardens and rangers in particular monitor the lakes and rivers because they know there’s a perception that operating a boat under the influence is somehow less dangerous than driving under the influence.

It’s not actually less dangerous, though, and boat operators are still subject to the same blood alcohol limit of 0.08. So just because you don’t see a warden around doesn’t mean they aren’t out and about, looking for those boating under the influence.

Increasing Penalties

When you operate a boat in Wisconsin, you give implied consent to law enforcement to test you for drugs and alcohol. The first BUI offense carries fines, but it does not mean automatic jail time. You may still even get to keep your boating license, though you may have to undergo court-ordered education and testing. However, if you get another BUI charge within five years of that first one, your fines go up and then you face potential jail time.

And Then There’s the Car

Even if you make it through your day at the lake without intervention from law enforcement, there remains the problem of getting home. If you get behind the wheel of a car while drunk, you will be subject to the same harsh penalties as anyone driving under the influence.

If you’ve been hit with BUI or DUI charges, contact an attorney immediately. Eisenberg Law Offices can help you with your case and provide experienced defense in court. If you want to continue to enjoy your boat, you need skilled legal assistance.