You know the dangers – both moral and legal – involved in getting behind the wheel of a car if you’ve had one too many drinks and are over the legal limit. You could seriously injure yourself and others, and you could wind up facing charges of driving under the influence which can cost you your license and your freedom if you are convicted. But getting behind the wheel or the helm of a boat poses equally serious risks. If you are convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) in New Orleans, be prepared for severe consequences that can land you in jail, keep you off the road as well as the water, and negatively impact your life far from the water’s edge. Contact a New Orleans BUI lawyer today to learn more about your rights and options under the law.

What is Boating Under the Influence?

Operating a boat or any watercraft while over Louisiana’s legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit can result in BUI charges. The same statute that applies to driving under the influence of alcohol also applies to boating under the influence.

Specifically, La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §14:98 provides that:

The crime of operating a vehicle while intoxicated is the operating of any motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of conveyance when:

  • The operator is under the influence of alcoholic beverages
  • The operator’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or more (0.02 percent or more for operators under 21 years of age)
  • The operator is under the influence of any controlled dangerous substance, or
  • The operator is under the influence of a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs that are not controlled dangerous substances and that are legally obtainable with or without a prescription.

As is the case if you are pulled over in your car for suspicion of driving under the influence, by operating a boat on NOLA’s beautiful lakes, rivers, bayous, and other waterways, you have given your “implied consent” to a blood, breath or chemical test to determine your BAC. There are penalties involved if you refuse to submit to such testing.

Penalties for Boating Under the Influence

Louisiana law enforcement officials as well as the U.S. Coast Guard are relentless in enforcing the state’s BUI laws, and it’s not hard to understand why.

“Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents,” according to a 2017 report by the U.S. Coast Guard. That report found that in 2016, alcohol was the primary factor in 282 boating accidents, leading to 264 injuries and 87 deaths.

The penalties which can be imposed upon conviction for BUI reflect the seriousness of the offense. A first offense conviction for BUI in New Orleans can include a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail, as well as community service and participation in substance abuse programs. Subsequent convictions will lead to even greater penalties, as is the case if the BUI caused any injuries or fatalities, involved endangering the life of a child, or was based on blood alcohol content greater than .15 percent.

Importantly, a BUI conviction can impact your driving privileges as well as your boating privileges. Your driver’s license could be suspended, and you could be ordered to install an ignition interlock device in your car. You could lose your boat as well, as it can be seized and sold under certain circumstances

Contact a New Orleans BUI Lawyer if You’ve Been Charged With BUI

If you have been charged with boating under the influence in Louisiana, don’t take it lightly. A conviction can cost you your freedom and your future. There are defenses to Louisiana BUI charges that an experienced New Orleans BUI lawyer can assert on your behalf.

At Bloom Legal, we have extensive experience defending against BUI and related charges in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana. We are available 24/7 to offer you a free consultation to discuss your case. Please call us at 504-636-6729 or contact us online.

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