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

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

Maryland law prohibits operating or attempting to operate a vessel while under the influence of or impaired by drugs or alcohol. The term “vessel” means “every description of watercraft, including an ice boat but not including a seaplane, that is used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water or ice.”

Maryland has two general classifications of boating under the influence:

  • Boating under the influence (BUI). A person can be convicted of a BUI for operating a vessel while “under the influence” of alcohol. Maryland’s BUI statute doesn’t define “under the influence.” But when a boater had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater, the court presumes that the boater was under the influence.
  • Boating while impaired (BWI). A person can be convicted of a BWI for operating a vessel while “so far impaired by any drug, combination of drugs, or combination of one or more drugs and alcohol that the person cannot operate a vessel safely.”

In other words, you can get a BUI for boating with an excessive amount of alcohol in your system and a BWI for boating while actually under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

BUI Penalties

The consequences for a first, second, and third or subsequent BUI are:

  • First offense. A first-offense BUI is a misdemeanor and carries up to one year imprisonment and/or a maximum of $1,000 in fines.
  • Second offense. A second-offense BUI is a misdemeanor and carries up to two years imprisonment and/or a maximum of $2,000 in fines.
  • Third or subsequent offense. A third-offense BUI is a misdemeanor and carries up to three years imprisonment and/or a maximum of $3,000 in fines.

A judge can also suspend the boating privileges of any BUI offender who refused a chemical test in violation of Maryland’s implied consent laws or had a BAC of .08% or greater for up to one year.

BWI Penalties

The consequences for a first and second or subsequent BWI are:

  • First offense. A first-offense BWI is a misdemeanor and carries up to two months imprisonment and/or a maximum of $500 in fines.
  • Second or subsequent offense. A second-offense BWI is a misdemeanor and carries up to one year imprisonment and/or a maximum of $1,000 in fines.

BUIs and BWIs Involving “Life-Threatening” Injuries

Where a BUI or BWI offender causes an accident where another person suffers “life-threatening” injuries, the following penalties could apply:

  • BUI involving life-threatening injuries. A boater who causes life-threatening injuries to another while under the influence of alcohol or with a BAC of .08% or more is guilty of a misdemeanor and faces up to three years imprisonment and/or a maximum of $5,000 in fines.
  • Alcohol BWI involving life-threatening injuries. A boater who causes life-threatening injuries to another while impaired by alcohol is guilty of a misdemeanor and faces up to two years imprisonment and/or a maximum of $3,000 in fines.
  • Drug BWI involving life-threatening injuries. Generally, a boater who causes life-threatening injuries to another while impaired by drugs is guilty of a misdemeanor and faces up to three years imprisonment and/or a maximum of $5,000 in fines. (For certain drugs, the maximums are two years jail and $3,000 in fines.)

BUIs and BWIs Involving Death

Where a BUI or BWI offender causes an accident involving the death of another, the following penalties could apply:

  • BUI homicide. A boater who causes the death of another while under the influence of alcohol or with a BAC of .08% or more is guilty of a felony and faces up to five years imprisonment and/or a maximum of $5,000 in fines.
  • BWI involving life-threatening injuries. A boater who causes the death of another while impaired by alcohol or drugs is guilty of a felony and faces up to three years imprisonment and/or a maximum of $5,000 in fines.

Get in Contact with a BUI Attorney

Maryland 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.

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