North Carolina law prohibits operating a motorboat or vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The state's boating under the influence (BUI) laws cover not only motorized boats, but also water skis, surfboards, nonmotorized vessels (such as a sailboat or paddleboat), and other similar devices. A person can be convicted of a BUI for either:
“Under the influence” means the person has taken enough drugs and/or alcohol “to lose the normal control of his [or her] bodily or mental faculties, or both, to such an extent that there is an appreciable impairment of either or both of these faculties.”
Most North Carolina BUIs are class 2 misdemeanors. The sentence a court can impose depends on the offender’s criminal history. But generally, North Carolina BUI offenders face $250 to $1,000 in fines and a maximum of 60 days in jail. It’s common for judges to sentence BUI offenders to probation, either supervised or unsupervised, and pay a fine.
North Carolina enacted “Sheyenne’s Law” in June 2016. The new legislation—effective December 1, 2016—enhances the consequences for certain BUI offenses. The new penalties are:
In addition to imprisonment, a judge can impose a fine for any of the BUI classifications involving injury or death.
If you’ve been arrested for or charged with boating under the influence in North Carolina, 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 North Carolina BUI law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide the best course of action.