We’re already a week into August, but don’t despair: There is still plenty of time to soak up the summer sun. That includes getting out on the water. There may be few things better in summer than a boat ride, whether it’s for fishing, waterskiing, or just going for a cruise.

For many people, the experience is even more fun when they can relax on the boat with a beer or other adult beverage – or several. Even the driver gets in on the fun. After all, there’s plenty of water for everyone to stay out of each other’s way, and you’re not going that fast.

Before you know it, though, you’ve made the same mistake that far too many other boat drivers make every summer, and you’re paying the price with an arrest for Boating Under the Influence.

Not Much Difference Between DUI and BUI

The simple fact is that every state regards drunk boating much the same as drunk driving. In most states, the legal blood alcohol content that a person can have while operating a boat is .08, while North Dakota is the only state to allow a BAC of .10.

Some states have lower BACs for people under 21, but it’s important to remember that it’s always illegal for people under 21 to consume alcohol in any state.

If police stop you out on the water, they will likely follow the same procedures as they do for a DUI or DWI stop on the road, including administering field sobriety tests.

A conviction for Boating Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs can also carry equally serious penalties as a DUI or DWI. That can mean loss of boating privileges, jail time, fines, and increased insurance. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, a Boating Under the Influence conviction can affect your driving privileges in 13 states. That could mean a driver’s license suspension or the loss of your vehicle.

Alcohol, Sun, and Water: A Deadly Mix

Even if your boat is going slower than a car, a day of drinking in the sun can impair your abilities worse than if you were at home or a bar. The Coast Guard also cautions that the motion of being on a water and vibrations of being on a boat also speed up alcohol impairment.

So just like if you were to go out for a night on the town, use a designated driver. If that person is you, then it’s best to wait until you get to shore to crack open a cold one.

But it’s also important to remember that if police arrest you that you have certain legal rights, and you have the right to a defense against the charges. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney can make a big difference in your case. Your attorney will be able to determine whether police followed the law when stopping and arresting you.

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