When most people think of DUI offenses, boats do not always come to mind. Yet a boat is also a vehicle that can cause substantial damage and injuries if operated improperly.

In Rhode Island, operating a boat while intoxicated is a crime that can result in a range of penalties, including some fairly severe ones. If you face charges, it is in your best interest to take the situation seriously and get qualified legal assistance promptly.

Types of vessels

Some people assume BUI laws only apply to motor boats. In reality, they cover operating all types of boats, including sailboats, canoes, waterskis and even kayaks.

Defining intoxication

Just as with other types of motor vehicles, the legal alcohol limit for operating a boat is a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent. For those under the age of 21, the limit is 0.02 percent. In addition, actual impairment through alcohol or drugs (often including prescription medication) is also against the law, even with a lower BAC. Thus, if you have a BAC of 0.03 percent, yet the alcohol is causing you to boat unsafely, you may still be in violation of the law.

Likely penalties

Generally, a first-time conviction may result in a fine of 100-250 dollars and a boating safety assessment fee. Other penalties may include up to 60 hours of community service and being unable to operate a boat for up to 45 days. If the BAC was over 0.1 percent, penalties may also include imprisonment for as much as a year and a longer period of losing the right to operate a boat.

Some factors can result in increased penalty levels. If a child under the age of 13 was onboard during the BUI, the boat may be impounded for up to a year. If your right to operate a boat was suspended, violating this term can entail losing this privilege for another two years, as well as imprisonment. Repeat convictions raise fine and imprisonment amounts and can also cause your vessel to be seized.

Refusing a breath test

Finally, Rhode Island’s implied consent laws also apply in a boating context. Refusing required chemical testing can increase penalties; you can also face conviction for refusal even if the BUI is dismissed.