State College DUI While Boating Attorney
Many people like to enjoy a sunny, summer day on a lake or waterway by having a few drinks with friends and family. Everyone is aware that they cannot drink and drive, but many people do not think about drinking and boating. Regrettably, those people often find out the hard way that Pennsylvania has a law that is similar to Driving Under the Influence (DUI) called Operating a Watercraft Under the Influence, which many people simply refer to as BUI. The Operating a Watercraft Under the Influence law, found at 30 Pa.C.S.A. § 5502, prohibits a person from operating or being in actual physical control of the movement of a watercraft with drugs or alcohol in their system to an extent that it renders them incapable of safely operating the watercraft or is over the legal limit, which is generally .08% for adults or .02% for someone that is under 21.
You Could Be Charged for Using Legal or Illegal Drugs While Boating
Aside from alcohol, a person can also be charged with Operating a Watercraft Under the Influence after using drugs, both illegal drugs and even prescribed drugs. The Pennsylvania BUI law prohibits a person from operating or being in actual physical control of the movement of a watercraft with any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance (marijuana), Schedule II (Oxycontin) or Schedule III controlled substance that is not prescribed, or a metabolite of those substances. Since the person is not permitted to have those substances in the body, any amount of the substance in the body supports a prosecution for BUI.
A person can also be charged with BUI for using prescribed medications if the drug or combination of drugs impairs the person’s ability to safely operate the movement of the watercraft. In many prosecutions for use of prescription drugs, the district attorney will have an expert review the blood test results to see if the levels of the drugs were within therapeutic levels, meaning within levels that are normally prescribed for a person with a particular ailment. If the levels are outside of therapeutic ranges, the prosecution will often try to have the expert testify that the person would have been impaired and unable to safely operate a watercraft.
Sentence for Misdemeanor Offense of Operating Watercraft Under the Influence
Similar to Pennsylvania DUI sentencing laws, the BUI laws carry mandatory minimum penalties that are very severe, including jail time, fines, and a suspension of boating privileges. A conviction of BUI does not result in a suspension of a person’s driving privileges. Some first-time offenders are eligible to participate in the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program to avoid the conviction and reduce the penalties that are imposed. For more information about the ARD program for a charge of Operating a Watercraft Under the Influence, click here.
Contact an Experienced Defense Lawyer In Centre County
Because Operating a Watercraft Under the Influence is a serious offense with severe penalties, a person charged with such an offense should retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
As a State College criminal defense attorney since 2004, Attorney Jason S. Dunkle has represented people charged with BUI offenses in Huntingdon County who got into trouble after spending time on Lake Raystown. For a free consultation, contact JD Law, P.C., at (814) 954-7622 or via email.