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A BUI Can Really Take the Wind out of Your Captain's Sails

Many Wisconsin boat captains enjoy adventurous and successful careers on the water. Boat handling skills and seamanship are no doubt essential qualities most experienced boat captains possess. It may be great fun to interact with passengers and crew members while maintaining a professional and astute disposition as you guide a vessel to its destination. There are certain situations, however, that can be very dangerous on a river or lake. In fact, anytime someone takes to the water, there's a certain amount of risk involved.

If you're the captain, you're responsible for your own safety, as well as that of your crew and anyone traveling aboard. Therefore, you're obligated to avoid participating in any sort of negligent behavior that places personal safety of others at risk. Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs can turn an exciting and pleasant sea journey into a disastrous situation.

Basic BUI facts

Many state legislatures have enacted laws regarding boating under the influence due to a significant rise in alcohol and drug-related fatalities and injuries on the water. In fact, some estimates claim more than half of all boating accidents somehow involve alcohol. The following facts are important to remember for boat travelers and captains:

  • The U.S. Coast Guard says alcohol on the water can be even more hazardous than alcohol ashore. 
  • Authorities can pull over a boat just as police officers make traffic stops on the road.
  • Natural elements like heat, sun and wind can affect a boat operator's mental and physical abilities. If a boat operator adds alcohol to the equation, his or her ability to safely operate a vessel may be significantly impaired.
  • Not only your operator's license but your personal freedom may be at stake if authorities charge you with boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • BUI conviction results in a criminal record as it is not like a mere traffic ticket. It's a crime.

In addition to laws governing legal blood alcohol content levels for boaters, there are also stipulations regarding minors aboard boats when authorities charge captains with boating under the influence. Knowing the laws ahead of time and what to do if problems arise may help keep you out of trouble.

No one accused of boating under the influence can be automatically presumed guilty. Just as on land, every boat captain charged with a crime on the water has the right to fight against charges in court. To increase the chances of obtaining a positive outcome, it's typically best to request assistance from an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible following an arrest.