Louisiana Boating Under the Influence Laws

Louisiana BUI Lawyer

Boating is a very popular activity for people who live in Louisiana because of the state’s beautiful lakes, rivers, bayous and other waterways.  But more people are familiar with accidents caused by drunk drivers than with boat accidents caused by intoxicated boat operators. There are many cases where people operating their boats while under the influence of drugs caused serious accidents.

Boating Under the Influence Definition

What does boating under the influence mean?

When you operate a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol, you can be charged with a BUI, which is similar to being charged with a DUI. You are not supposed to operate a motor vehicle, aircraft, water vessel and other means of conveyance when:

  • Your blood alcohol concentration is .08 percent and above and .02 for operators under the age of 21
  • You are under the influence of any controlled substances
  • You are under the influence of alcohol combined with one or more drugs that are not controlled dangerous substances and that can be obtained legally with or without prescription
  • You are under the influence of alcoholic beverages

Just like in a DUI situation, you will be pulled over by U.S. Coast guard if they have reason to believe that you are operating a boat while you are under the influence of an intoxicating substance. They will ask you to take a blood, breath or chemical test and warn you about the consequences of not taking that test.  There are consequences for refusing to submit to the test.

Drugs and Alcohol Affect Boating Ability

You need certain skills to operate a personal watercraft on Louisiana waters just like you need skills to operate a car on the roads. This includes maintaining awareness of your surroundings while boating and properly operating the boat.  Boating accidents usually happen for the following reasons:

  • Operating the boat carelessly
  • Operating the boat in areas you are not supposed to go boating
  • Boating in bad weather
  • Operating the boat without the required skills
  • Going out on your boat alone

You are very likely to cause an accident in the above situations when you are operating a boat while drunk.  Alcohol can affect you vision and make it harder for you to respond in time during emergency boating situations.  These effects can get worse because of things like the boat’s motion or even sun exposure.

BUI – Penalties

Operating boats while under the influence of alcohol is the leading cause of fatal boating accidents according to a U.S. Coast Guard report released in 2017.  The report indicates that boating under the influence of alcohol was the reason behind 282 boating accidents. Out of all those accidents, 87 people died and 262 were injured. The consequences for a BUI conviction can range from you being kept off the water to serving time in jail. You can also be fined $1,000, spend 48 hours in jail and lose your license if you are convicted.  Your attorney will fight for your rights so that the BUI conviction does not cost you your freedom or future.