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Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Lawyers in Maine

Boating Under the Influence Defense Lawyers in MaineNearly everyone is familiar with the terms OUI, DUI, or DWI. All mean the act of driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Fewer people, however, are familiar with the similar term, BUI, which stands for boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In the state of Maine, a BUI is the same as an OUI in nearly all ways, except that the vehicle is on the water, not the roads. Just like driving, operating a watercraft is illegal when you’re impaired by drugs or alcohol. You can be charged with BUI for operating – or even attempting to operate – anything on the water, from motorboats and sailboats, to jet skis, to surfboards. In Maine, boating is a popular recreation, and plenty of people use their boats to work, as well: Boat U.S. Magazine listed Portland as one of their “Ten Great Boating Towns for Retirement,” and Maine fisheries regularly net more seafood than nearly all other states.

When boats and beer mix, however, the consequences can be deadly. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that approximately a third of all boating deaths were caused by someone boating under the influence, and goes so far to say that operating a boat while intoxicated is more dangerous than operating a car. While this claim might surprise you, it could very well be true: Boating is more complex than driving – how a boat runs is affected by such factors as the currents and the wind – and people drive much more than they boat – to many, driving is almost second nature. With these facts in mind, BUI suddenly becomes an important law to be familiar with.

Penalties for boating under the influence in Maine

You can be arrested for a BUI just like you can get arrested for an OUI: Instead of a police officer pulling over your car and asking you to take a sobriety test and a breathalyzer, it’s a member of Maine’s Marine Patrol or the Maine Warden’s Service, pulling over your boat and asking you to take a sobriety test and a breathalyzer. Even the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) is the same for a BUI as it is for an OUI: 0.08%. Lastly, even the “zero tolerance” law for underage drivers applies to underaged boaters: If you’re under 21 and operating a boat, any alcohol in your system can lead to your arrest. The fines and jail times accompanying a BUI conviction, however, are slightly different:

Fines Jail Time
1st Offense Minimum $400 Minimum 48 hours (with an aggravating factor)
2nd Offense Minimum $600 Minimum 7 days
3rd or Subsequent Offense Minimum $1,000 Minimum 30 days

If you’re a first-time offender, you could face jail time if there was an “aggravating factor” in your arrest. These aggravating factors include a BAC of 0.15% or higher, or a failure to submit to an alcohol breath test, or a failure to stop when a uniformed officer signaled or requested you to stop.

In addition to a fine and potentially even jail time, you will also lose your boating license, and could even lose your driving license, as a result of a BUI conviction. Additionally, BUI offenders may be required to complete alcohol treatment programs, through the Department of Health and Human Services.

A BUI conviction will stay on your criminal history forever: In Maine, there is currently no process for “expungement” – the sealing of old, minor crimes from your criminal record – outside of the pardon of the Governor of Maine. Getting the Governor to pardon your crimes, called “executive clemency,” is very, very rare, and never done for BUI or OUI convictions. If you are facing a BUI charge, and you lose, you will face the consequences forever. Call the law offices to fight these charges: (207) 571-8146.

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