Nebraska’s Boating Under the Influence Laws

Read about the consequences of boating under the influence (BUI) in Nebraska.

Nebraska law prohibits being in “actual physical control” of a motorboat or personal watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Generally, the term “motorboat” includes “any watercraft propelled in any respect by machinery, including watercraft temporarily equipped with detachable motors.” And “personal watercraft” generally refers to all types of jet skis. (Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 37-1204, 37-1204.01, 37-1254.01 (2016).)

A person can be convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) for being in actual physical control of a motorboat or jet ski while:

  • having ingested drugs and/or alcohol “in an amount sufficient to impair to any appreciable degree the [boater’s] ability to operate a [boat] in a prudent and cautious manner,” or
  • having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater.

(State v. Mitchell, 23 Neb. App. 657 (2016); Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 37-1254.01 (2016).)

BUI Penalties

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

  • First offense. A first-offense BUI is a class II misdemeanor. Convicted boaters face up to six months in jail and/or a maximum $1,000 in fines. The judge must also order the boater not to be in actual physical control of a boat or personal watercraft for at least six months (60 days if the judge suspends the sentence).
  • Repeat offense. A second or subsequent BUI is a class I misdemeanor. Convicted boaters face up to one year in jail and/or a maximum $1,000 in fines. The judge must also order the boater not to be in actual physical control of a boat or personal watercraft for at least two years.

(Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 28-106, 37-1254.12 (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 Nebraska, get in contact with an experienced BUI attorney. The facts of every case are different. A good BUI 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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