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Criminal Lawyer Cleveland Defense Attorney

Boating & Drinking (BUI)

BUI in Cleveland Ohio

Helping Ohioans faced with BUI

Northeast Ohio is full of lakes and rivers. That and our beautiful weather makes boating an extremely popular pastime. However, boat operators are subject to DUI/OVI laws just like the driver of any other motorized vehicle.

In some respects, being charged with DUI/OVI while operating a boat is the same as being charged while operating a car. The standard for intoxication for BUI (boating under the influence), for example, are the same: a BAC of .08 or above. The consequences are also similar in that they include mandatory jail time and significant fines. However, in some ways boating DUIs are more complex. Due to maritime law, boat operators don’t have all the same constitutional protections on the water that they have on the road.

For example, federal and state watercraft officers have the right to stop you on the water for a random safety check without a warrant. If during the course of a random safety check they have reason to suspect you are intoxicated, they have the right to expand the inspection to include a sobriety check.

While no license is required to operate a non-commercial boating vehicle in the state of Ohio, refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test may result in a mandatory 1 year "No Operation of a Watercraft" or "Registration of Watercraft" ruling. 

Complexity in DUI Cases

One common possible complexity in BUI cases are prior convictions of DUI/OVI. If you have a prior traditional DUI conviction, your BUI charge may be treated as a repeat offense, making you eligible for higher penalties. Alternatively, if you have a BUI conviction on your record and are subsequently charged with a DUI/OVI while operating a car or other land-based vehicle, you may also be eligible for harsher penalties.

Therefore, if you have been charged with DUI while operating a boat, you must assume that your regular driver’s license may be at risk. While boating is generally a form of recreation, most of us need our cars to get to and from work or school, and to fulfill childcare and other family obligations. If you have been charged with BUI, contacting an attorney right away is one of the most important steps that you can take to protect your legal record so you can retain your driving privileges.

Attorney Adam VanHo has defended numerous clients charged with this first degree misdemeanor, and has a strong record of getting his clients enrolled in diversionary/driver intervention programs. The sooner you contact him, the sooner he can get to work helping you minimize the impact of a BUI charge on your record.