Boating Under the Influence With Children Aboard
In some states, it is specifically unlawful to endanger a child in the use of a watercraft. This may be in addition to any other child endangerment statutes in your state’s laws. A sample statute reads that “a person who violates this Code section while transporting in a moving vessel or personal watercraft or towing on water skis, an aquaplane, a surfboard or similar device, or a child under the age of 14 years is guilty of the separate offense of endangering a child by operating a moving vessel or personal watercraft under the influence of alcohol or drugs.” Boating under the influence with children aboard is a very serious criminal charge.
Underage BUI – 0.01 Blood Alcohol Level
Much as it is with driving, in most states it is commonly a criminal offense for anyone under the age of 21 to operate a boat with a much lower blood level of alcohol. A typical statute reads that it is an infraction for a person under the age of 21 years who has 0.01 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to operate any motorized vessel or manipulate water skis, an aquaplane, or a similar device.
Simply being “reckless” in your boat is likely a violation of state law. A sample statute reads that a person who operates any water device in such a manner as to indicate either a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless operation. Reckless operation includes, but is not limited to, weaving through congested vessel traffic at more than idle speed; or jumping the wake of another vessel within two hundred feet of that vessel; or crossing the path or wake of another vessel when the visibility around the other vessel is obstructed; or maintaining a collision course with another vessel or object and swerving away in close proximity to the other vessel or object.
Injury or Death Caused by Boating Under the Influence
If someone dies as a result of your operation of a boat, this is likely considered a homicide by most states. A sample statute reads that when the death of a person ensues within three years as a proximate result of injury received by the operation of a boat in reckless disregard of the safety of others, the person operating the boat is guilty of reckless homicide. Like almost all other homicides, this is typically a felony offense, meaning the punishment can be more than a year in prison and may also carry severe fines. Furthermore, multiple deaths can lead to an extremely high bond amount being required, and this is not unconstitutional.
Some states have a separate criminal offense for causing the death of an unborn child because of your operation of a vessel. This is a felony and involves injury of a pregnant woman in the second or third trimester. A sample statue reads that a person commits the offense of feticide by vessel in the first degree if he or she causes the death of an unborn child. The unborn child must be so far developed as to be capable of survival outside of the womb, which doctors call “quick.”
Some states have an additional serious (felony) criminal offense if you cause a serious injury through your use of a vessel. What constitutes a serious injury differs from state to state. A sample statute reads that whoever, without malice, shall cause bodily harm to another by depriving him or her of a member of his or her body, by rendering a member of his or her body useless, by seriously disfiguring his or her body or a member thereof, or by causing organic brain damage which renders the body or any member thereof useless shall be guilty of the crime of serious injury by vessel.
A good BUI attorney can help you navigate the legal waters and will find ways to challenge the State’s evidence against you. Call us at 1-888-839-4384 and get a FREE professional boating under the influence case review.
More BUI Resources
If you’d like to learn more about BUI, we have several helpful articles. Click the links below to learn more details about boating under the influence.