Massachusetts not only prohibits driving a car while intoxicated but also operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This article explains Massachusetts's boating under the influence (BUI) rules and the penalties you'll face for a BUI violation.
Massachusetts law prohibits operating any vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
A person can be convicted of boating under the influence for operating a vessel while:
In other words, a BUI conviction can be based on actual impairment or an excessive BAC.
The term "vessel" means a "watercraft of every description, except a seaplane on the water used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water." So, you could theoretically be convicted of a BUI on a sailboat, canoe, rowboat, or any other type of watercraft.
The possible jail sentences and fines for a BUI conviction depend on whether the offender has previously been convicted or assigned to an alcohol education or rehabilitation program because of a prior BUI or DUI (also called "OUI") offense. An assignment or BUI conviction counts as a prior—for purposes of jail and fines—when it occurred within six years of the most recent offense. Here are the penalties:
Within these ranges, the specific penalties an offender receives depend on the circumstances of the case.
The length of license and boat certificate suspension depends on whether the offender has previously been convicted or assigned to an alcohol education or rehabilitation program because of a prior BUI or DUI offense. An assignment or BUI conviction counts as a prior—for purposes of suspensions—when it occurred within ten years of the most recent offense.
So, whereas the criminal penalties (like jail and fines) depend on how many convictions the boater has within the last six years, for purposes of the license and boat certificate revocation consequences, all offenses within the last ten years are counted.
Enhanced penalties apply to BUI offenses involving "serious bodily injury" or death to another person.
Massachusetts 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.