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Important information about boating under the influence charges

In order to discourage intoxicated boating and keep boaters and their passengers safe, the Coast Guard and other water-based law enforcement agencies enforce a wide variety of boating under the influence regulations. If a boat operator is suspected of being intoxicated, state and federal law enforcement officers can pull the boat over and remove the operator from his or her vessel and conduct a battery of tests.

BUI checkpoints, where random vessels are pulled over and checked for intoxicated operators, are common in South Carolina. After pulling a boat operator over, if inebriation is suspected, authorities will generally run a series of exams, not unlike those performed on suspected drunk drivers.

If a boater is arrested and charged with BUI, the case will be handled in criminal court. Boaters convicted of BUI could have their boating licenses taken away. Meanwhile, repeat offenders and BUI operators who had children in their boats could face more severe punishments upon conviction. If the BUI offense is felony level, then boaters could face jail time, lose their driver's license, suffer from a marred criminal record and lose their right to vote.

Another negative consequence of a BUI conviction, however, is becoming liable for accidents and/or injuries connected to a crash. Boaters convicted of BUI could be held responsible in civil court for costly personal injury damages and property damages by parties harmed in a collision.

If you have been arrested and charged with BUI, a criminal defense attorney may be help. A lawyer will review the factual scenario surrounding your arrest and advise you of the most appropriate defense strategy to employ during your criminal proceedings.

Source: FindLaw, "Boating Under the Influence Basics," accessed Jan. 22, 2016

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