Hawaii's Boating Under the Influence Laws

Read about Hawaii’s boating under the influence (BUI) laws and the consequences of a conviction.

Hawaii law prohibits operating or being in actual physical control of a vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The term “vessel” includes every “description of watercraft that [is] used or … capable of being used as a means of transportation on or in the water.” (Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 291E-1 (2016).) A person can be convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) for operating a vessel if:

  • the amount of alcohol consumed by the boater is “sufficient to impair the person's normal mental faculties or ability to care for the person and guard against casualty”
  • the drugs ingested “impairs the person's ability to operate the vehicle in a careful and prudent manner,” or
  • the boater had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater.

(Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 291E-1, 291E-61(a) (2016).)

BUI Penalties

The consequences of a Hawaii BUI conviction depend on the circumstances of the case. But generally, the possible penalties are:

  • First-offense BUI. A first BUI typically carries one or more of the following: $150 to $1,000 in fines, 48 hours to five days in jail, and 72 hours of community service. Convicted boaters also face a one-year license revocation and must complete a 14-hour substance abuse program.
  • Second-offense BUI. A second BUI generally carries $500 to $1,500 in fines and either 240 hours of community service or five to 30 days in jail. Convicted boaters also face an 18-month to two-year license revocation.
  • Third-offense BUI. A third BUI generally carries $500 to $2,500 in fines and ten to 30 days in jail. Convicted boaters also face a two-year license revocation.

Generally, boaters must have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in all their vehicles during the period of license suspension.

(Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 291E-41, 291E-61(b) (2016).)


Sentencing law is complex. For example, a statute might list a “minimum” jail sentence that’s longer than the actual amount of time (if any) a defendant will have to spend behind bars. All kinds of factors can affect actual punishment, including credits for good in-custody behavior and jail-alternative work programs.

If you face criminal charges, consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney with command of the rules in your jurisdiction will be able to explain the law as it applies to your situation.

Talk to an Attorney

The consequences of a Hawaii BUI are serious, and the facts of every case are different. If you’ve been arrested for boating under the influence, get in touch with an experienced BUI lawyer. A qualified attorney can explain how the law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide on the best course of action.

Talk to a Lawyer

Want to talk to an attorney? Start here.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Connect with local attorneys