Kentucky’s Boating While Intoxicated Laws

Read about the consequences of boating while intoxicated (BWI) in Kentucky.

Kentucky law prohibits operating any motorboat or vessel while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. The term “vessel” includes every type of watercraft except a seaplane. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 235.010(1) (2016).) A person can be convicted of boating while intoxicated (BWI) in Kentucky for operating a watercraft while:

  • under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two to a degree that it affects the person’s ability to operate a boat
  • having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater, or
  • having any concentration of certain controlled substances—including cocaine and methamphetamine—in the body.

(Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 189A.010, 235.240 (2016).)

BWI Penalties

The consequences of a Kentucky BWI depend on the circumstances of the case. But generally, the consequences are:

  • First offense. A first-offense BWI carries $200 to $250 in fines.
  • Second offense. A second-offense BWI carries $350 to $500 in fines.
  • Third offense. A third-offense BWI carries $600 to $1,000 in fines and/or not less than 30 days in jail.

All BWI offenders also must complete a state-approved safe-boating course.

(Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 235.990(2) & (3) (2016).)

HOW MUCH TIME WOULD YOU ACTUALLY SPEND IN JAIL?

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

If you’ve been arrested for or charged with boating under the influence in Kentucky, get in contact with an experienced BWI attorney. The facts of every case are different. A good BWI attorney should be able to explain how the law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide on your best course of action.

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