Summertime in Pennsylvania is a time to get outside and head to a baseball game, check out a local festival, and get on the water. Each of these can come with opportunities to enjoy an alcoholic drink but only one can come with the risk of criminal charges.
Which summer activity is illegal?
It is illegal to boat while under the influence. Like driving, boat operators can face criminal charges if they drink and boat — and states are cracking down on this practice.
Pennsylvania is taking part in Operation Dry Water, a national movement to focus on impaired boaters. Officers who are participating are looking for more than just dangerous boating. They are also taking a closer look at boat operators and checking for red eyes and slurred speech. If they suspect the boat operator is drunk, the officers could arrest the boater. The state can even move forward with boating under the influence (BUI) charges if the boat operator has a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher.
What are the chances officials will stop boaters?
Pennsylvania officials are running multiple enforcement weekends to find those who violate this law. During these designated weekends, there is an increased enforcement present on waterways. A recent event was held over the Fourth of July.
How can I reduce the risk of a stop when out boating?
Just like when we get behind the wheel of our car, take care when driving a boat. Consider designating a sober driver for the day. Follow the rules of the water way like going slow in no-wake zones and having all safety equipment present on the boat. This includes proper lighting if out after dark and the right number of life jackets.
What should I do if I am stopped and face BUI charges?
It is important to take the situation seriously. A conviction for BUI can come with serious penalties including thousands of dollars in fines and potential imprisonment. The severity of penalties varies depending on several factors, including the boat operator’s BAC level, any prior offenses, and whether or not there was an accident.
Those facing BUI charges are wise to seek legal counsel. An attorney experienced in this niche area of criminal defense law can review the situation and discuss possible defense strategies to help better ensure your rights are protected.