Mississippi’s Boating Under the Influence Laws

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

Mississippi law prohibits operating a watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The term “watercraft” means “a motorized vessel with a motor of twenty-five (25) horsepower or greater used for transportation on public waters and personal watercraft (jet skis).” (Miss. Code. Ann. § 59-23-3(f) (2016).) A person can be convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) for operating a watercraft while:

  • under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or any other intoxicating substance “so that there is impaired thought and action and loss of normal control of a person’s faculties to such an extent as to endanger any person,” or
  • having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater.

(Miss. Code. Ann. § § 59-23-3(b), 59-23-7(1) (2016).)

BUI Penalties

The consequences of a Mississippi BUI depend on the circumstances of the case. But generally, a BUI is a misdemeanor, and the possible penalties are:

  • First offense. A first-offense BUI generally carries $250 to $1,000 in fines and/or up to 24 hours in jail. All first offenders must also complete a state-approved boating safety course.  
  • Second offense. A second-offense BUI generally carries $600 to $1,000 in fines and either two days to one year in jail or ten days to one year of community service. Boaters convicted of a second BUI also face a one-year boating privilege suspension.
  • Third offense. A third-offense BUI generally carries $800 to $1,000 in fines and 30 days to one year in jail. Boaters convicted of a third BUI also face a two-year boating privilege suspension.

For purposes of determining whether a BUI is a second or third offense, only prior BUI committed with the past five years count. (Miss. Code. Ann. § 59-23-7(2) (2016).)

BUIs Involving Injuries or Death

Generally, BUI offenders who cause accidents where someone is killed, or some part of another person is mutilated, disfigured, or permanently disabled can be convicted of a felony and face up to ten years in prison. (Miss. Code. Ann. § 59-23-7(4) (2016).)


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 Mississippi, 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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