The North Carolina law prohibits operating a motorboat or vessel while under the influence of drugs and or alcohol. The state’s Boating Under the Influence (BUI) laws cover motorized boats, water skis, surfboards, nonmotorized vessels (such as a sailboat or paddleboat) and other similar vehicles or transportation. A person can be convicted of a BUI for either:

  • Operating a vessel while under the influence of an impairing substance (drugs and or alcohol)
  • Having at any relevant time after boating, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

The definition of “Under the Influence” means that the person has taken enough of an impaired substance to lose the normal control of his or her bodily or mental facilities to such an extent that here is an appreciable impairment of either or both of these functions.

BWI Penalties

In most of North Carolina, BUI’s are class 2 misdemeanors. The sentence a court can impose depends on the offender’s criminal history. Generally, North Carolina BUI offenders face a penalty between $250 and $1,000 in fines and a maximum of 60 days in jail. It is also common for judges to sentence BUI offenders to probation, either supervised or unsupervised, and they pay a fine.

What is Sheyenne’s Law?

North Carolina enacted “Sheyenne’s Law” last year in June 2016. The new legislation, which became effective December 1, 2016, enhances the consequences for certain BUI offenses. The new penalties are:

  • Serious injury by impaired boating – A BUI offender who causes ‘serious injury’ to another person can be convicted of a class F felony – an offense that carries 10 to 41 months in prison.
  • Aggravated serious injury by impaired boating – A BUI offender who causes serious injury to another person and has a BUI conviction within the past 7 years can be convicted of a class E felony – an offense that carries 15 to 63 months in prison.
  • Death by impaired boating – A BUI offender who causes the death of another person can be convicted of a class D felony – an offense that carries 38 to 160 months in prison
  • Aggravated death by impaired boating – A BUI offender who causes the death of another person and has a CUI conviction within the past 7 years can be convicted of an aggravated class D felony – an offense that carries 64 to 160 months in prison
  • Repeat death by impaired boating – A BUI offender who causes the death of another person and has a prior conviction for death by impaired boating or aggravated death by impaired boating can be convicted of a class B2 felony – an offense that carries 94 to 393 months in prison.

In addition to imprisonment, a judge can impose a fine for any of the BUI classifications involving injury or death.

If you or a loved one has gotten into a boating accident caused by an impaired driver, please contact Thomas Bumgardner at 704-887-4981 to learn more about the legal services we offer. We are here to help you.