Nevada's Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Laws

Read about Nevada’s boating while intoxicated (BWI) laws and the consequences of a conviction.

Nevada law prohibits operating or being in actual physical control of a vessel “under power or sail” while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A person can be convicted of boating while intoxicated (BWI) for operating a vessel while:

  • impaired by alcohol, a controlled or intoxicating substance to a “degree that renders [the] person incapable of safely operating or exercising actual physical control of a vessel”
  • having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .1% or greater within two hours of operating the vessel (.08% for offenses involving death or serious injuries), or
  • having a prohibited concentration of certain drugs—including marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and PCP—in the body.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 488.035, 488.400, 488.410 (2016).)

BWI Penalties

The consequences of a Nevada BWI conviction depend on the circumstances of the case. But generally, the possible penalties are:

  • Standard BWI. Generally, a BWI is a misdemeanor and carries up to $1,000 in fines and/or a maximum six months in jail.
  • BWI involving death or injuries. An offender who negligently causes death or “substantial bodily harm” to another while boating under the influence is guilty of a category B felony. Convicted boaters face two to 20 years in prison and $2,000 to $5,000 in fines.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 193.150, 488.410(5), 488.420 (2016).)

“Homicide by Vessel”

A boater who causes the death of another person while operating a vessel under the influence and has at least three prior BWI convictions can be convicted of “homicide by vessel.” Homicide by vessel is a category A felony and carries ten years to life in prison. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 488.425 (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

The consequences of a Nevada BWI are serious, and the facts of every case are different. If you’ve been arrested for boating under the influence, get in touch with an experienced BWI 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.

Protect Yourself. Talk to a Lawyer About Your Case

Enter Your Zip Code to Connect with a Lawyer Serving Your Area

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you

Talk to a DUI Defense attorney

We've helped 115 clients find attorneys today.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you