Boating season has started and with the 4th of July weekend quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to hit the lakes and enjoy the party.

Sometimes, while you’re enjoying yourself on the lake, it’s easy to unintentionally overindulge. That’s why it’s important to make sure you always have an individual who is sober to drive the boat and everyone home. Before you think about getting on a boat and driving after a few drinks, be sure to understand how the state of North Carolina defines boating under the influence (BUI) and what the penalties are.

BUI Defined:

No person shall operate any motorboat or vessel, or any water skis, surfboard, or similar device while under the influence of an impairing substance, nor operate any motor vessel after consuming alcohol sufficient to cause a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater.

BUI 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.

But like any crime, there are certain penalties for the seriousness of the crime or violation. The current penalties for a BUI 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.

If you find yourself charged with boating under the influence in North Carolina, be sure to contact an attorney who understands the law and can provide you with excellent representation. Contact Thomas Bumgardner at 704-887-4981 to learn more about the legal services we offer. We are here to help you.

Find more information about boating safety here.