Can I get a DWI/DUI in a boat?

It’s summer on the coast of North Carolina. You are enjoying a day out on the boat with a few drinks, and suddenly your good day becomes not so good. You have been stopped by Law Enforcement, they see the cooler full of beer, and now your feeling pretty nervous.

People commonly ask, is it possible to get a DWI/DUI on a boat? The simple answer is, yes.

G.S. 75A-10(b1) prohibits the operation of any vessel while underway on the waters of this State: (1) while under the influence of an impairing substance; or (2) after having consumed sufficient alcohol that the person has, at any relevant time after the boating, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. In addition, G.S. 75A-10(b) bars a person from “manipulat[ing] any water skis, surfboard, nonmotorized vessel, or similar device on the waters of this State while under the influence of an impairing substance.” Violation of either provision is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Although the law covering boating while impaired is very similar to the law covering driving while impaired, there are some very important differences.

First, driving while impaired is what is called an implied consent offense. Implied consent means that if you refuse to submit to a breath or blood sample while being investigated for DWI, you will likely lose your license for a year. Boating While Impaired is not an implied consent offense, meaning that there will not be an automatic civil revocation of your drivers license if you refuse to give law enforcement a breath sample. If a boater refuses to give a breath sample, law enforcement can only obtain a breath sample if there are exigent circumstances, or if they have probable cause and are able to obtain a warrant.

As always, when enjoying a day out on the water, it is best to have a designated driver. Call Duhe Law, PLLC today to set up a consultation, if you have been charged with boating while impaired.

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