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Be aware of boating under the influence laws

In the hottest days of summer, nothing may sound more relaxing than taking your boat out and drinking a nice cold beer. If you do, though, you need to be aware that there are laws prohibiting boating under the influence, just as there are laws against driving while intoxicated. A surprising number of people don't even know that they can be charged for this, so they make mistakes that could easily have been avoided.

The reason the laws are on the books is that the U.S. Coast Guard found that boating under the influence significantly increases the odds that an accident will be fatal. In fact, the chances of a fatality go up by an amazing 34 percent.

Much of the time, the procedures used to identify inhibited boaters are the same as those used to identify drunk drivers. Officers patrol the water to look for boats being driven in a hazardous manner. They may pull boaters over and talk to them or administer breath tests. They may also have checkpoints so that they can simply talk to all of the boats coming through the area.

Likewise, the penalties are similar to those for DUIs. If convicted, you could face fines and you may even have your driver's license taken away. If you drive a boat for work, you could lose that commercial license. These are potentially huge punishments that could also cause you to lose your job, as you won't be able to perform your duties.

If you're facing BUI charges in Charleston, South Carolina, make sure you know what legal options you have.

Source: FindLaw, "Boating Under the Influence Basics," accessed May. 12, 2015

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