As temperatures climb, you may be itching to pull your boat out of storage and prepare for a summer on the lake. If you intend to consume alcohol on the water, though, you may have some concerns about boating under the influence.
Operating a watercraft with a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit may expose you to serious legal consequences. Luckily, even if officers arrest you on suspicion of BUI, you may be able to avoid a conviction. Here are three common defenses to BUI charges in the Keystone State.
1. The nature of boating
On Pennsylvania’s many roadways, motorists must follow clearly defined rules. When you are on the water, though, rules are not necessarily so easy to identify. While officers often use erratic boating to form reasonable suspicion for a BUI stop, the definition of “erratic” may be hard to pin down.
2. The problem with sobriety testing
When officers conduct field sobriety tests beside the road, they have the benefit of solid ground. That is not the case with water. When you are on your boat, you may naturally stagger, sway or fall. Even if officers take you to shore to gauge your sobriety, you may not be able to pass field sobriety tests with sea legs.
3. The concept of responsibility
If you have others on your boat with you, prosecutors may have a hard time proving you were the one driving. Naturally, even if you are drunk on a boat, you cannot be legally responsible for BUI without piloting the vessel.
While there may be nothing inherently wrong with imbibing on your boat, living with a BUI on your record may not be ideal. Ultimately, it is likely in your best interests to explore all possible defenses to BUI charges.