Michigan BUI/BWVI Penalties

Read about the consequences of being convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) in Michigan.

In Michigan, it’s illegal to operate a motorboat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, Michigan has two classifications of boating under the influence—BUI (boating under the influence) and BWVI (boating while visible impaired)—that carry different penalties. (Michigan’s Boating Under the Influence Laws explains how the offenses differ.) And the consequences of a conviction are typically more serious when someone was injured or killed, the boater has prior BUI or BWVI convictions, or there was a passenger under the age of 16 in the boat.

Below is an overview of the possibility penalties for various boating-under-the-influence offenses.

BUI Penalties

The consequences for a first, second, and third BUI are:

  • First offense. A first-offense BUI is a misdemeanor and carries one or more of the following: up to 45 days of community service, a maximum of 93 days in jail, and fines ranging from $100 to $500. Also, the court can suspend the offender’s privilege to operate a motorboat for one to two years.
  • Second offense. If a BUI offender has a prior BUI or BWVI conviction that occurred within the past seven years, the second offense will be a misdemeanor and carry from $200 to $1,000 in fines. The court also must sentence the offender to either ten to 90 days community service and up to one year in jail (option one) or 48 hours to one year in jail and up to 90 days community service (option two). And the court must suspend the offender’s privilege to operate a motorboat for at least two years.
  • Third offense. If a BUI offender has two or more prior BUI or BWVI convictions—regardless of how long ago they occurred—the third or subsequence offense will be a felony and carry one year to five years in jail and/or $500 to $5,000 in fines. If the offender has two more priors within the past ten years, the court must suspend the offender’s privilege to operate a motorboat indefinitely. However, if the offender has two or more priors but one or none within the past ten years, the court either can suspend the boater’s operating privilege for one to two years (no priors within seven years) or must suspend the boater’s operating privilege for at least two years (one prior within seven years).

(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. §§ 324.80177, 324.80186 (2016).)

BWVI Penalties

The consequences for a first, second, and third BWVI are:

  • First offense. A first-offense BWVI is a misdemeanor and carries one or more of the following: up to 45 days of community service, a maximum of 93 days in jail, and a maximum fine of $300. Also, the court can suspend the offender’s privilege to operate a motorboat for six months to one year.
  • Second offense. If a BWVI offender has a prior BWVI or BUI conviction that occurred within the past seven years, the second offense will be a misdemeanor and carry from $200 to $1,000 in fines. The court also must sentence the offender to either ten to 90 days community service and up to one year in jail (option one) or a maximum of one year in jail and up to 90 days community service (option two). And the court must suspend the offender’s privilege to operate a motorboat for one to two years.
  • Third offense. If a BWVI offender has two or more prior BWVI or BUI convictions—regardless of how long ago they occurred—the third or subsequence offense will be a misdemeanor and carry $200 to $1,000 in fines. The court also must sentence the offender to either ten to 90 days community service and up to one year in jail (option one) or a maximum of one year in jail and up to 90 days community service (option two). If the offender has two more priors within the past ten years, the court must suspend the offender’s privilege to operate a motorboat indefinitely. However, if the offender has two or more priors but one or none within the past ten years, the court either can suspend the boater’s operating privilege for six months to one year (no priors within seven years) or must suspend the boater’s operating privilege for one to two years (one prior within seven years).

(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. §§ 324.80178, 324.80186 (2016).)

Penalties for BUI with a Passenger Under 16

The consequences for a first, second, and third BUI or BWVI where the operator had a passenger under 16 years old are:

  • First offense. A first-offense BUI/BWVI with a passenger under 16 years old is a misdemeanor and carries $200 to $1,000 in fines. The court also must sentence the offender to either five days to one year in jail or 30 to 90 days of community service.
  • Second offense. If a person who is convicted of a BUI/BWVI with a passenger under 16 years old has a prior BWVI or BUI conviction that occurred within the past seven years, the second offense will be a felony and carry from $500 to $5,000 in fines. The court also must sentence the offender to either one to five years in prison (option one) or 30 days to one year in jail and 60 to 180 days of community service (option two).  
  • Third offense. If a person who is convicted of a BUI/BWVI with a passenger under 16 years old has two or more prior BWVI or BUI convictions—regardless of when they occurred—the third or subsequent offense will be a felony and carry from $500 to $5,000 in fines. The court also must sentence the offender to either one to five years in prison (option one) or 30 days to one year in jail and 60 to 180 days of community service (option two).  

(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 324.80178b (2016).)

BUIs Involving Injuries or Death

An offender who causes “serious impairment of a body function of another person” while operating a motorboat under the influence is guilty of a felony and faces a prison sentence of up to five year and/or fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. (Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 324.80176(5) (2016).)

Where a boater causes the death of another person while operating a motorboat under the influence, the offense is a felony and carries up to 15 years in prison and/or fines from $2,500 to $10,000. (Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 324.80176(4) (2016).)

For boaters convicted of a BUI involving serious impairment or death, the law requires an indefinite suspension of the person’s privilege to operate a motorboat. (Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 324.80186 (a) (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 a BUI Lawyer

Michigan BUI law is complicated and the consequences of a conviction are serious. Get in touch with a local BUI attorney to find out how the law applies to the facts of your case. A qualified attorney should be able to tell you if you have any available defense and what kind of penalties you might be facing if convicted.

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