Summer is approaching and many people are excited to enjoy summer activities like swimming, fishing, and boating. Alcohol and summer fun often go hand in hand. However, criminal charges for operating a boat under the influence of alcohol can bring summer enjoyment to an abrupt halt. If you are an Illinois resident, it is crucial that you understand state laws prohibiting boating under the influence (BUI) and the penalties associated with a BUI conviction.
Illinois Conservation Police report that 16 individuals lost their lives in boating accidents last year. Four of those fatalities involved impairment by drugs or alcohol. Although many people see drinking while boating as less dangerous than drunk driving, both are associated with increased risk of injuries and fatalities.
To reduce the number of boat accidents and injuries, Illinois penalizes BUI harshly. Under Illinois law, it is illegal to be in “actual physical control” of a pontoon, fishing boat, jet ski, or other watercraft if:
You have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more
You have a blood THC concentration of 5 ng/ml or more
You are under the influence of alcohol to a degree that makes you unable to operate the boat safely
You are under the influence of another intoxicated substance to a degree that makes you unable to operate the boat safely
Boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol can lead to arrest and criminal charges. A first-time BUI is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to $2,600 in fines and up to a year in jail. A second offense can result in felony charges and a maximum prison sentence of three years. Conviction for BUI can also lead to suspension of your operator’s privileges, meaning you are not allowed to operate a boat for a certain period of time.
Certain aggravating factors can increase the criminal penalties for BUI. You face felony charges punishable by substantial prison time if you are convicted of:
BUI causing an accident in which someone is seriously injured or killed
BUI while your boating privileges are suspended due to a past boating-related offense
Individuals convicted of BUI with a child passenger under 16 must also complete a minimum of five days community service.
If you or a loved one were charged with boating under the influence (BUI), contact our Rolling Meadows BUI defense lawyer for legal support, trustworthy advice, and skilled representation. Call Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law at 847-253-3400 for a free consultation.
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