Misconceptions About Alcohol and Boating
According to the United States Coast Guard, many of the problems associated with alcohol and boating arise because of mistaken beliefs. These beliefs include:
- OUI is not nearly as serious as DUI. In fact, more than 15% of boating fatalities are linked to alcohol. Operating a motorized watercraft in Arizona while impaired, or with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater (0.04 in the case of commercial vessels), is a class 1 misdemeanor, at the very least. In some cases, you could also be charged under federal law.
- Partying is an acceptable part of boating, provided you’re not totally wasted. Operating a motorized boat or other watercraft while impaired to the slightest degree is a crime, just as it is for driving a car. You do not have to be roaring drunk to be impaired, or to be charged with OUI.
- The penalties for OUI are mild compared with DUI. With a couple of exceptions, the penalties for OUI are largely the same as for DUI, including jail time, fines, assessments, substance abuse screening, and more.
- OUI is limited to alcohol. It’s ok to smoke pot while boating. As in the case of DUI, the laws governing boating while under the influence include impairment as the result of drugs.
- It’s hard to get caught for drinking (or drugging) and boating. In recent years, tolerance for OUI has declined, and police are on the lookout for intoxicated boaters. Tools that were developed for the roadways, such as saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints, are now being used by the Arizona Game and Fish Department / Sherriff’s Office to catch those suspected of boating under the influence.
Don’t be misled by the rumors you might have heard about lenient treatment of impaired boaters.
As in the case of DUI, the penalties for OUI are more than an inconvenience.
- First-time OUI. You should assume that it will cost you thousands of dollars in fines, assessments, and other charges, that you will be required to complete an alcohol and drug screening, and that you will be required to attend substance abuse classes. Jail time is also possible, although it can be suspended in some cases based upon your successful completing of the screening and attendance at alcohol/drug classes. If the judge determines that you recklessly exposed another person to serious injury, you will have to serve at least 24 consecutive hours in jail. Lastly, you will have a misdemeanor on your permanent criminal record.
- Second-time OUI. Mandatory jail time of at least 30 days (minimum 90-day sentence imposed, with suspension of 60 days after completion of screening/classes). Higher fines and fees.
- Extreme OUI. You are subject to additional penalties if your BAC is 0.15 or more (Extreme OUI). A first offense will lead to at least 10 days in jail, as well as higher fines. If your BAC is 0.20 or higher (Super Extreme OUI), enhanced penalties will apply.
- Aggravated OUI. As in the case of DUI, aggravated OUI is a felony, and the penalties reflect that classification. Aggravated OUI includes (a) three or more OUI’s within 84 months; and (b) OUI with a child passenger.
An OUI is a serious charge, and the potential penalties are significant. Protect yourself by hiring an experienced Phoenix OUI lawyer.
Defending OUI Charges in Phoenix, AZ
If you have been charged with boating under the influence, we can help. Contact the attorneys at Feldman & Royle to schedule a free consultation.