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Consuming alcohol while boating

On Behalf of | Dec 2, 2021 | Injuries, Maritime Law

Many boaters bring alcohol when they take their boat out on a lake or river. While South Carolina does not prohibit the consumption of alcohol while operating a boat, it is illegal to do so under the influence of alcohol.

Here is what boaters need to know about boating under the influence (BUI) in South Carolina.

Boating under the influence

The law allows people to consume alcoholic beverages while piloting a boat, but drunk boating is illegal. A person is under the influence if he or she is unable to safely operate a marine vehicle. Typically, courts will consider such a person under the influence if their blood alcohol level is .08 or higher.

Penalties for BUI

The consequences for a BUI vary based on multiple factors, including the number of prior convictions. After a first offense, courts will impose a fine of $200 and incarceration for up to 30 days. For a second offense, the fine increases to up to $5,000, and the potential jail sentence rises to one year. BUI offenders could face a maximum fine of $6,000 and a maximum sentence of three years for a third conviction. The severity of penalties increases if a BUI results in bodily injury or property damage.

In addition to criminal penalties, the operator will likely lose their boating license for between six months and two years, depending on if they have previous offenses.

Injuries on the water are very common. If an injury occurs because someone was boating under the influence, the affected parties may be able to seek compensation.