Operating Under the Influence (OUI)

Spending a weekend or holiday down at the lake is a great way to relax and unwind. Cookouts and parties often feature wine, beer, and liquor. While partying by the lake and boating can both be a good time, take care when mixing the two. Operating a boat while under the influence of drugs and alcohol increases the risk for injury while on the water, and given the prevalence of boat related accidents, boat safety cannot be taken lightly. In addition to safety concerns, driving a boat after or while drinking puts you in danger of receiving an operating under the influence charge.

Many people are aware that driving a car while under the influence is illegal, but most people do not realize the same is applicable when operating a boat. Boating under the influence is very similar to driving under the influence in terms of penalties and grounds for receiving a charge. Just like with a motor vehicle, when issued a blood alcohol test, if the boat driver is found to have a blood alcohol content above a .08%, they are operating their boat under the influence.

If you are currently facing a charge of operating a boat under the influence, it is important that you seek legal advice from Arizona lawyers familiar with these types of cases. Scott David Stewart is prepared to defend your case and ensure you do not receive undue burden or trumped up charges.

Arizona Game and Fish Department is in charge of conducting saturation patrols and OUI check points. These features are meant to assess boaters’ sobriety while operating their boats and to check the safety features on a boat, ensuring the well-being of everyone on the lake. These patrols and checkpoints help officers determine a boat driver’s sobriety, and if an officer finds probable cause, they can issue a blood alcohol test and issue a citation for operating under the influence.

Just like in cases of driving a vehicle under the influence, you have the potential to be charged with an OUI under the “impaired to the slightest degree” Arizona Statute § 28.1381. This statute means regardless of blood alcohol content, an officer can issue an OUI using any evidence of impairment. Also, Arizona has levels of OUI that match the levels of DUIs in the state. An OUI (.08%), an extreme OUI (.15%), and a super extreme OUI (.20%) are each given their own set of penalties.

For standard OUI misdemeanors for boat drivers who have a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher, fines can be up to $1,450 and a jail sentence can be up to 10 days. Extreme OUIs for BAC over .15% face fines up to $2700 and can face up to 30 days in jail. Super extreme OUIs for individuals who test a BAC of .20% or higher face a harsh sentence of a $3,150 fine and jail time up to 45 days.

Also in keeping with the implied consent laws on Arizona’s motorways, by operating a boat on Arizona waters, you are consenting to being tested for both alcohol and drugs. Failure to comply with this testing results in similar penalties as a refusal when driving a vehicle. While boat safety is an important concern, the legal team at the Law Offices of Scott David Stewart believes you have the right to plea your case with the help of top advisors to ensure that you receive the lightest sentence possible. Contact our offices today to set up an appointment to find out how we can help.