Boating Under the Influence in Maryland’s Waters

August 29, 2012

Along with swimming and sun tanning on the beach, boating is one of the most popular pastimes for Maryland residents. Many families flock to the water with bathing suits, food, and a few drinks to enjoy the summer weather while it’s here.

When throwing in drinks, sometimes boaters forget that operating a boat under the influence is just as illegal as driving a car after one too many at the bar. Though boating is an exciting activity, adding alcohol or drugs to the mix can be a disastrous combination.

Delegate Dwyer and six others found this out on the Magothy River recently. Dwyer was piloting his boat and tried to veer to avoid the other vessel that had two adults and five children. Unfortunately, the boats collided, injuring the four children, one other adult and Dwyer.

Dwyer later admitted he was drinking before the accident. He said his BAC was .20, but the official police report hasn’t been released.

Like driving under the influence (DUI), the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit for operating a vessel is .08.

Alcohol affects a boater’s:

  • Judgment – alcohol makes it harder to concentrate, process information and make smart decisions;
  • Vision – including decreased peripheral and night vision; reduced depth perception; and difficulty distinguishing colors;
  • Balance;
  • Coordination; and
  • Reaction Time – like driving, alcohol slows a person’s ability to react quickly.

The Maryland DNR Police can stop your boat if they suspect you’re boating while impaired. Like a DUI while driving, the officer can administer a Breathalyzer and Field Sobriety Tests.

Unlike drivers that are arrested and charged with a DUI or DWI, boat operators have far fewer laws to protect them. According to the Maryland Natural Resources Police Department and the US Coast Guard, officers are allowed to search a boat at any time.

Typically, penalties for boating while under the influence of alcohol or other substances include fines, imprisonment, community service, counseling, and suspension or revocation of boating privileges.

In Maryland, if a boat operator is found guilty of boating while under the influence, the penalties could include:

  • loss of boating and driving privileges;
  • fines;
  • imprisonment;
  • community service; and
  • mandatory counseling for alcohol or substance abuse.

If a boater is found guilty of killing someone while boating under the influence, the penalties could include:

  • extensive fines;
  • imprisonment;
  • community service; and
  • mandatory counseling for alcohol or substance abuse.

If you are charged with boating while under the influence in Maryland, be sure to contact an attorney with Cochran and Chhabra at 888-268-5515.

The law office of Cochran & Chhabra has provided this website and its content for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to be legal advice or counsel. Your use of this site and its content does not construct a lawyer-client relationship with Cochran & Chhabra. You should consult an attorney for individual advice concerning your particular situation.

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