Boating Under the Influence In South Carolina

The Law in South Carolina

Avoid boating under the influence in Charleston Harbor

Boating while impaired by alcohol or drugs is illegal in South Carolina just as it is illegal to drive a car while drunk. Section 50-21-112 of the South Carolina statutes specifies "operation of moving motorized water device or water device under sail while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol to the extent that the person's faculties are materially and appreciably impaired." The statute also clarifies that a "drug" may be legal or illegal, or may be a combination of alcohol and a legal or illegal drug.

What Are the Open Container Laws in South Carolina?

Be safe and avoid boating under the influence on South Carolina lakes and rivers

While the law is clear in regard to operating a boat while impaired, that still leaves questions related to the use of alcohol and the presence of open containers on boats. Specifically:

  • Can you have open alcohol containers on a boat in South Carolina?
  • Can you drink while boating on a South Carolina lake?

We've previously addressed this topic in a blog post and noted:

"South Carolina law doesn't expressly prohibit open containers of alcohol on boats within the state. Presumably, this means that the occupants of a boat can enjoy a beer as they enjoy cruising on a lake or river.

[However], just because a person might be able to have an open container of alcohol on a boat doesn't mean that drunk driving laws don't apply. Much like the laws that apply to drivers on land, boat operators face a legal blood-alcohol content limit of 0.08 percent.

Always be responsible and stay safe while having fun on the water."

Penalties & Consequences of Boating Under the Influence in South Carolina

Penalties for boating under the influence in South Carolina

If you have been charged with boating under the influence (BUI) of drugs or alcohol in South Carolina and are convicted, you face:

  • First offense: A fine of $200 or imprisonment for 48 hours or more. Public service can take the place of imprisonment.
  • Second offense: Penalties rise to $2,000 to $5,000 and imprisonment between 48 hours and one year. Ten days or more of public service may take the place of imprisonment.
  • Third offense: These subsequent convictions may result in fines of $3,500 or more and imprisonment lasting 60 days to three years.

A conviction on drunk boating charges can also have the same types of devastating long-term effects as a drunk driving conviction. These include:

  • Driver's license suspension
  • Difficulty obtaining employment or housing
  • Potential professional discipline or loss of professional licenses
  • Stigma and shame
  • Long-lasting negative consequences to career and other areas of life

If you've been arrested on suspicion of BUI, know this: you have options, and we can help. At Drennan Law Firm,  we are prepared to take up the fight on your behalf. We have experience handling all types of difficult DUI/BUI cases in the Charleston area, and have helped clients throughout the region keep BUI charges from ruining their lives.

Want To Learn More?

A man who knows not to drink and boat

Visit our boating under the influence blog archive for a full list of posts on this topic. These posts address issues such as:

Contact A Charleston Area BUI Attorney for a Free Initial Consultation

Stop worrying about what to do and get your boating DUI case underway as soon as possible. Contact us by phone or email to request an initial consultation with a Charleston, South Carolina, area lawyer with no further obligation.