In Arizona, it’s illegal to operate or be in actual physical control of a motorized watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The penalties for operating a boat under the influence (OUI), sometimes called “boating under the influence” (BUI), depend on a number of factors, including whether the operator:
(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 5-395, 5-395.01, 5-396, 5-396.01, 5-397 (2016).)
See below for a discussion of the possible penalties for various types of OUI offenses. For more information on this subject, see Arizona's Operating a Watercraft Under the Influence Laws and Possible Defenses to an Arizona OUI Charge.
A standard OUI involves operating a motorboat while “impaired to the slightest degree,” having a BAC of at least .08% but less than .15% within two hours of boating, or having any amount of drugs in the body. The consequences for a first, second, and third standard OUI are:
Generally, for a first or second standard OUI, the judge can reduce the jail time if the offender completes substance abuse treatment. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 5-395.01, 5-396, 5-396.01 (2016).)
An “extreme” OUI involves having a BAC of at least .15% but less than .2% within two hours of operating a motorboat. The consequences for a first, second, and third extreme OUI are:
Generally, for a first or second extreme OUI, the judge can reduce the jail time if the offender completes substance abuse treatment. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 5-396, 5-396.01, 5-397 (2016).)
A “super-extreme” OUI involves having a BAC of .2% or more within two hours of operating a motorboat. The consequences for a first, second, and third super-extreme OUI are:
(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 5-396, 5-396.01, 5-397 (2016).)
A person who operates a motorboat under the influence with a passenger under the age of 15 can be convicted of an “aggravated” OUI.
Unlike third-offense “aggravated” OUIs (see above), an aggravated OUI based on an underage passenger doesn’t carry a mandatory prison sentence. Instead, the required jail time is the same as it would be for the underlying offense. For example, if an operator with a BAC of .08% is convicted of their second OUI and there was a passenger on board younger than 15, there’s a minimum 90-day jail sentence (30 of which must be served consecutively)—the same as for a second standard OUI. The biggest difference is that the offense is a class 6 felony instead of a class 1 misdemeanor. Convicted boaters also face at least $4,000 in fines and assessments and boat forfeiture.
(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 5-396 (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.
Arizona OUI law is complicated and the facts of every case are different. If you’ve been arrested for boating under the influence in Arizona, get in contact with an attorney who handles OUI cases. A qualified attorney can help you understand how the law applies to the facts of your case and what penalties you might be facing.