West Virginia’s Boating Under the Influence Laws

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

West Virginia law prohibits operating a motorboat, jet ski, or other motorized vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A person can be convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) for operating a watercraft while:

  • impaired by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two, or
  • having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater.

(W. Va. Code Ann. § 20-7-18b (2016).)

BUI Penalties

The consequences of a West Virginia BUI depend on the facts of the case. But generally, BUI penalties are:

  • First offense. A first-offense BUI is a misdemeanor and generally carries one to 60 days in jail and $100 to $500 in fines.
  • Second offense. A second-offense BUI is a misdemeanor and generally carries six months to one year in jail and possibly $1,000 to $3,000 in fines.
  • Third offense. A third-offense BUI is a felony and generally carries one to three years in prison and possibly $3,000 to $5,000 in fines.
  • BUI involving injury. A BUI involving “bodily injury” to another person is a misdemeanor and generally carries one day to one year in jail and $200 to $1,000 in fines.
  • BUI involving death. Depending on the circumstances, a BUI involving death to another person can be a misdemeanor or a felony. If the offense is a misdemeanor, the defendant will face 90 days to one year in jail and $500 to $1,000 in fines. However, if the BUI involving death is a felony, the offender will be looking at one to ten years in prison and $1,000 to $3,000 in fines.

(W. Va. Code Ann. § 20-7-18b (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 West Virginia, 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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