Even on the Water, it's Sober or Slammer

There's nothing like a summer in Chicagoland.

The icy wind gusts and sleeting snow have finally gone away and it's the time for baseball, picnics, block parties, and taking the boat out on the lake with the boys and some beer.

Drinking and boating may seem synonymous, but boating under the influence, or BUI is just as much of an offense as a DUI on land. 

Driving Drunk is No Joke on Land or by Sea

Most people are aware that they shouldn't drink and get behind the wheel of a car. However, many people seem to think it is okay on the water. Maybe it's the lack of traffic, or not having a ton of traffic signals.

Lone swimmers are certainly less plentiful than pedestrians in Chicagoland. However, the legal blood alcohol limit still remains at 0.08% whether in your backyard or on Lake Michigan.

If you are suspected of boating under the influence, you'll be facing the same sobriety tests and breathalyzers you would if you were pulled over onI-90.

Using drugs is as bad as alcohol, and you'll also be cited if your blood contains over five nanograms of THC or over ten nanograms in any other bodily fluid. THC is the active component in Marijuana.

How Much is That Though?

Less than you think. 

An average female weighing about 130lbs will be over the limit after having 3 shots within an hour. For an average man of about 180lbs, four beers in an hour will do it.

As far as marijuana goes, any at all could put you over the limit at least for a little while. It's still unclear how to limit yourself effectively on this drug, and the state is still figuring out the best method of marijuana detection. It's best to avoid using altogether if you intend on operating any vehicle on land or in the water.

It's always best to designate a driver when you're going to be out with a group of people drinking. This way you make sure everyone remains safe and no one has the potential of going to jail. Well, outside of disorderly conduct or being drunk in public at least.

The Penalties of Being Charged with Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

The penalties of a BUI in Illinois are similar to the penalties involved with DUI. They aren't fun and it will be quite expensive. The first thing you should do after you're arrested is to contact an attorney

First BUI Offense

Your first offense will be considered a class A misdemeanor. You'll be required to pay fines upwards of $2,600 and have the potential to serve almost a year in jail.

That's a hefty hit for a fun time on the water. 

Second Offense

Doing this again is met with a harsh uptick in the severity of your punishment in the Illinois court system. 

Your second BUI is considered a class 4 felony. That means you could serve up to 3 years in prison and be stuck paying up to $25,000 in fines.

Serious Injury Involved with BUI

If the result of your BUI causes “great bodily harm” or “permanent disability or disfigurement” of one of your friends or any other person, it doesn't matter if it's your first offense.

You'll be facing the same punishment as the second time and immediately have a class 4 felony on your record. 

That means $25,000 in fines and up to three years in prison. A lifetime of regret and guilt would also be assumed depending on who was hurt and how badly.

Receiving a BUI on a Suspended Operator's License

If your license has been suspended regarding a previous BUI offense and you're caught boating under the influence again, that's another class 4 felony. 

It still merits that three years in prison and up to $25,000 in new fines.

If Your Negligence Results in the Death of an Individual

If you receive a BUI and the incident resulted in the death of another individual that's a class 2 felony. 

While the fines are similar, up to $25,000, this charge comes with up to 14 years in prison. Nothing, especially not some extra fun on a weekend summer day, is worth taking another person's life and flushing 14 years of yours down the drain.

Going Out on the Boat? Designate a Sober Captain

We hope by now you understand that operating a boat, or any other watercraft, under the influence of any drug or alcohol is just as serious as driving a motor vehicle drunk.

You're facing similar serious charges, substantial fines, and a ton of jail time for something easily avoided. Designating a sober captain avoids any complications from BUI. It's best to keep everyone in the craft safe.

If it's impossible for anyone to avoid drinking completely keep a close eye on your consumption. Make sure you're drinking one drink per hour, maximum, to avoid being anywhere near the legal limit. 

Have you been charged with a BUI? Not sure what to do next? Never even realized this was a crime? We understand your concern and confusion. The next step is to get a quality attorney on your side.

Contact us now for a free consultation.