Rhode Island's Boating Under the Influence Laws
Read about Rhode Island’s boating under the influence (BUI) laws and the consequences of a conviction.
Rhode Island law prohibits operating or driving any watercraft while under the influences of drugs or alcohol. The term “watercraft” means any “device for transportation by water.” (46 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 46-22.2-2 (2016). A person can be convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) for operating a watercraft while:
- impaired by alcohol, drugs, toluene, or any controlled substance “to a degree which rendered such person incapable of safely operating a watercraft”
- having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater, or
- having any amount of a controlled substance in the body.
(46 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 46-22.2-3 (2016).)
The consequences of a Rhode Island BUI conviction depend on the circumstances of the case. But the possible penalties vary depending which of the following classifications an offender is convicted of:
- Alcohol per se BUI. An alcohol “per se” BUI involves boating with a BAC of .08% or greater.
- Drug per se BUI. A drug per se BUI involves boating with any concentration of a controlled substance in the body.
- Alcohol-impairment BUI. An alcohol-impairment BUI involves boating while impaired by alcohol “to a degree which rendered such person incapable of safely operating a watercraft.”
- Drug-impairment BUI. A drug-impairment BUI involves boating while impaired by drugs, toluene, or any controlled substance “to a degree which rendered such person incapable of safely operating a watercraft.”
Depending on the facts, a BUI can be a felony or a misdemeanor. And the penalties for a conviction might include fines, jail time, community service, and operating privilege suspension. For instance, a first-offense alcohol-impairment BUI is a misdemeanor; convicted boaters face $600 to $900 in fines, ten to 60 hours of community service, up to one year in jail, and a three to six-month boating privilege suspension. (46 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 46-22.2-3(d)(2) (2016).)
Our “Rhode Island BUI Penalties” article has a more complete discussion of penalties, including those for repeat-BUI offenses.
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
Rhode Island BUI law is complicated, 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 your best course of action.