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Published on 4/28/2023, 2:43:00 PM

Can I Get a DUI on a Boat? Boating While Under the Influence and Boating While Intoxicated in Maryland

In Maryland, it is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Just like driving a car while intoxicated, boating under the influence can lead to serious legal consequences, including fines, imprisonment, and loss of boating privileges.

What About a DWI?

While the term "DUI" (Driving Under the Influence) is commonly used to describe impaired driving, Maryland law also recognizes "DWI" (Driving While Impaired). Both DUI and DWI charges can apply to boating, with DUI per se being the more severe offense, involving higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels or impairment from drugs.

Maryland BUI Laws - NR - 8-738(a1)

Maryland's waterways are frequently patrolled by Natural Resources Officers. Maryland Natural Resources Officers enforce a special section of Maryland Law, codified under Natural Resources. Operating a Boat while under the influence of or imapired by Alcohol and/or Drugs is a criminal offense within the natural resources law in Maryland.

Under NR 8-738(a1), Operation While Under the Influence of Alcohol, boating while under the influence of alcohol is a misdemeanor punishable by:

  • For a first offense a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for not more than 1 year
  • For a second offense, a fine of up to $2,000 and/or imprisonment for not more than 2 years
  • For a third or subsequent offense, a fine of up to $3,000 and/or imprisonment for not more than 3 years

Maryland BWI Laws - NR - 8-738(a2)

Just like Maryland DUI laws, Maryland has a lesser offense of Boating While Impaired by Alcohol, under NR - 8-738(a2), Operation While Impaired.

This offense has a lower burden of proof as to the level of impairment that resulted from alcohol consumption. A conviction is punishable by:

  • For a first offense a fine up to $500 and/or imprisonment for not more than 2 months
  • For a second or subsequent offense, a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment of not more than 1 year

What happens if I refuse a breath test?

Refusing a breath test while under investigation of drunk driving in a car has different penalties than boating drunk driving cases. If a person refuses a breath test during a BUI invesitgaiton they could be subject to additional penalties including prohibiting a person from operating a boat on the on the waters of the State of Maryland for up to 1 year, and an additional jail penalty of up to a year in jail.

If a person is involved in an accident while operating a boat that involves a life-threatening injury or death to another person, then they have to submit to a test under NR 8-738.1.

Maryland Boating While Impaired by Alcohol and or Drugs NR 8-738(a3) / Boating While Impaired by a Controlled Dangerous Substance NR 8-738(a4)

Just like Maryland drugged driving charges, Maryland has boating while impaired by drugs, and boating while under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, NR 8-738(a4).

These Offenses are similarly situated to the BUI/BWI charges outlined above with regards to maximum penalty. A Boating while too far impaired by drugs case will involve an allegation of "some drug" or a combination of drugs and alcohol. A Boating While Imapired by a Controlled Dangerous substance case will require the State prove the exact controlled dangerous substance that a person is under the influence of.

How is a Boating Case Different?

While the underlying principles of Maryland DUI laws apply to both driving and boating, there are some differences in how boating cases are handled.

Probation Before Judgment

In some BUI or BWI cases, the court may grant probation before judgment (PBJ), allowing the defendant to complete probation without a conviction on their record. Successfully completing PBJ can make you eligible for expungement, potentially removing the BUI or BWI from your record entirely. The availability and conditions of PBJ may vary between cases involving boats.

Consequences of Having a Record with a DUI on It

Having a DUI or DWI on your record can have long-lasting consequences, impacting your personal and professional life. Some of the potential consequences include:

  • Difficulty obtaining or maintaining certain jobs, particularly those that require driving or security clearances
  • Increased insurance premiums or difficulty obtaining insurance coverage
  • Potential impact on child custody or visitation arrangements
  • Loss of certain professional licenses or certifications
  • Loss of boating privileges

Speak with a BUI Lawyer Today

If you are facing BUI or BWI charges related to boating in Maryland, it is crucial to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer The best DUI lawyer in Maryland can help you understand the potential consequences of a boating-related DUI, explore your options for expungement or shielding, and provide the guidance and expertise you need to navigate the complex legal system.

The FrizWoods Difference

At FrizWoods, our criminal defense lawyers have extensive experience in Maryland DUI and DWI cases, including jury trials, bench trials, and probation before judgment. We understand the At FrizWoods, our criminal defense lawyers have extensive experience in Maryland DUI and DWI cases, including jury trials, bench trials, and probation before judgment.

We understand the lasting impact a DUI or DWI can have on your life, whether it involves operating a car, truck, or boat. Our team is dedicated to providing the comprehensive and compassionate representation you need to protect your rights and your future.

Don't let a boating-related DUI or DWI define your life. Contact FrizWoods today to speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer and learn how we can help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case. It's even possible to get a DUI on a bike in Maryland