Everyone’s heard of BUI. But, have you heard of a BUI? This is boating under the influence and it’s a crime in the state of Georgia. And, believe it or not, the penalties can be as bad or greater than they are for DUI.
Operating a boat can be dangerous business. If someone isn’t experienced, there’s a good chance they can hurt their passengers. They can crash into another vessel. Or, they can make a mechanical mistake and end up capsizing.
Under Georgia law, it’s illegal to operate any watercraft or vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This isn’t just limited to boats. It applies to follow crafts or vessels:
- Water skis
- Jet skis
- Moving surfboard
- Motorized raft
The courts consider any moving watercraft a type of vessel. So, if you’ve been drinking alcohol or using drugs, you can be charged and convicted of BUI. If this happens to you, you’re going to want to talk with an experienced DUI attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. The penalties for BUI are severe. You don’t want to face them alone.
Who Can Be Convicted of BUI?
Anyone caught driving a boat, or towing another watercraft, can be charged with DUI. The same legal limit applies to boats as they do to car drivers. If you’re found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher, you’ll be charged with BUI.
The difference with BUI is that they can check your BAC more than once. If your BAC is at .08 or higher at any point three hours before or after operating a watercraft, you can be found guilty of BUI.
This means that if you blow a .08 within a few hours of docking your boat, you can be charged. For example, let’s say you took your friends out on your fishing boat. You had more than a few beers while on board.
You dock your boat at a marina so you can grab lunch. The cops notice you’re intoxicated as you approach the dock to head back home. If they have reason to believe you were operating your vessel within three (3) hours (or intend to operate your vessel), you can be stopped for BUI.
What are the Penalties for BUI?
The penalties in Georgia for BUI are similar to those for DUI. Your BUI attorney in Atlanta knows this. That’s why they’ll fight so hard to get your charges reduced or dismissed.
If you’re convicted of a first offense BUI in Georgia, you’ll face the following consequences:
- Fines anywhere from $300-$1,000
- From 24 hours to 12 months in jail
- 40 hours of community service
- Completion of an alcohol or drug use risk-reduction program
- Clinical evaluation for substance abuse or dependency
The penalties continue to go up with each subsequent offense. For second offense BUI convictions, you’ll face the following penalties:
- Fines from $600 – $1,000
- Up to 30 days of community service
- 72 hours in jail up to 12 months in jail
- All of the additional penalties for a first BUI
This means you’ll have to complete a risk-reduction program and undergo the clinical evaluation for drug or alcohol dependency.
For a third and fourth offense, you’ll be facing serious jail time and fines. These offenses are considered high and aggravated misdemeanors. Here are the penalties for 3rd and 4th BUI convictions:
- Anywhere from 90 days to 5 years in jail
- Fines from $1,000 to $5,000
- Up to 60 days of community service
Your Atlanta BUI lawyer will try to get you the best outcome. Each case is different. They’ll review your case and help you prepare the best defense.
What if You Have Children on the Boat?
If you’re caught operating a vessel (or towing a vessel) that has passengers under the age of fourteen (14), you’ll be charged with additional offenses. Not only will you be charged with BUI, but you’ll also be charged with child endangerment.
The fines for this offense are at least $1,000 and you’ll face more than a year in jail. The courts have little sympathy for someone who endangers the lives of children. If you’re facing these charges, you’re going to need an experienced BUI lawyer in Atlanta.
Call and Retain an Experienced BUI Lawyer in Atlanta Right Away
Just because you’re driving a boat, you can still be charged with Boating Under the Influence. If you’re facing BUI charges in Atlanta, you need to contact an experienced BUI lawyer. Your lawyer will work with the prosecutor to get your charges reduced or dismissed. They’ll fight to get you the best outcome possible.