Kentucky's Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Laws and Penalties

Read about the consequences—including fines and jail time—of boating while intoxicated (BWI) in Kentucky.

By , Attorney · University of San Francisco School of Law

In Kentucky, it's not only illegal to drive a car while under the influence but also to operate a boat while intoxicated. This article explains Kentucky's boating under the influence (BUI) law and the penalties you'll face for a BUI conviction.

Kentucky's Boating Under the influence (BUI) Law

Kentucky law prohibits operating any motorboat or vessel while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. The term "vessel" includes every type of watercraft except a seaplane.

A person can be convicted of boating while intoxicated (BWI) (also called "boating under the influence" (BUI)) in Kentucky for operating a watercraft while:

  • under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two to a degree that it affects the person's ability to operate a boat
  • having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater, or
  • having any concentration of certain controlled substances—including cocaine and methamphetamine—in the body.

In other words—much like how it works with Kentucky's driving-while-intoxicated (DWI) laws—a BWI conviction can be based on actual impairment or the amount of alcohol or drugs in the boater's system. The same is true of Kentucky's

Kentucky's Boating Under the Influence Penalties

The consequences of a Kentucky BWI depend on the circumstances of the case. But generally, the consequences are:

  • First offense. A first-offense BWI carries $200 to $250 in fines.
  • Second offense. A second-offense BWI carries $350 to $500 in fines.
  • Third offense. A third-offense BWI carries $600 to $1,000 in fines and/or not less than 30 days in jail.

All BWI offenders also must complete a state-approved safe-boating course.

Talk to an Attorney

If you've been arrested for or charged with boating under the influence in Kentucky, get in contact with an experienced attorney. The facts of every case are different. A good DUI/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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