Ohio’s Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Laws

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

Ohio law prohibits operating or being in physical control of a vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A person can be convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) for operating a vessel while:

  • impaired by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two to an extent that “it adversely affected and appreciably impaired the defendant’s actions, reaction, or mental processes”
  • having a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater, or
  • having a certain concentration of amphetamine, cocaine, heroin, LSD, marijuana, methamphetamine, or PCP in the body.

(Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 1547.11(A) (2016).)

BUI Penalties

The consequences of an Ohio BUI generally depend on whether the offender has prior BUI or OVI (operating a vehicle impaired) convictions. BUIs are first-degree misdemeanors with the following penalties:

  • First offense. A first BUI carries three to 180 days in jail and $150 to $1,000 in fines. Judges have the option of suspending the three-day minimum sentence (or part thereof) by placing the offender under a “community control sanction” and requiring the offender to complete a “drivers’ intervention program.”
  • Second offense. Where a BUI offender has a prior BUI or OVI conviction that occurred within six years of the current violation, the second offense will carry ten to 180 days in jail and $150 to $1,000 in fines. Judges have the option of ordering second offenders to attend a drivers’ intervention program.
  • Third offense. Where a BUI offender has at least two prior BUI or OVI convictions that occurred within six years of the current violation, the third or subsequent offense will carry 30 days to one year in jail and $150 to $1,000 in fines. Judges have the option of ordering third offenders to attend a drivers’ intervention program.

A judge might also require a BUI offender to complete a boating safety course.

(Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 1547.99, 2929.24 (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 Ohio, 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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