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South Carolina officers on the lookout for drunken boaters

Getting out onto the water in a boat is a popular activity for many of South Carolina's residents. This is an activity that is popular year-round but now that the summer months are here, the number of people spending time on boats has increased.

A day spent out on a boat usually means packing snacks and refreshments. For some residents, some of these refreshments may contain alcohol. But boaters should beware that police are on the lookout for those operating their boats and other water devices under the influence of alcohol. It is important for residents of South Carolina to remember that, according to state law, boating under the influence of alcohol is illegal.

Beginning with the Fourth of July holiday, South Carolina officers have increased their focus on the Carolina waters in order to stop drunken boaters. Over the holiday weekend thousands of people were expected to be on the water. Police officers were on the lake until at least Friday at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. This holiday is usually the busiest boating day and evening in the entire year. Officers planned to inspect at least 50 or 60 boats, which is actually just a small segment of the number of boats that will be traveling lake waters over the weekend and throughout the summer.

South Carolina law states that operating a boat while impaired by alcohol or operating any other moving motorized water device or a water device under sail is illegal. According to the law, the operator must not be impaired to the extent that their "faculties are materially or appreciably impaired."

A conviction for boating while intoxicated will mean a misdemeanor on the operator's criminal record. That misdemeanor can be accompanied by some pretty hefty consequences including licenses suspension, loss of boating privileges, fines and even imprisonment.

The consequences depend upon the boater's history of drunken boating charges or convictions, if any. However, even if the individual facing drunken boating charges has no history of a criminal record, it is always a good idea to seek the assistance of an experienced BUI defense attorney who can help to ensure the outcome is the least punitive in nature for the defendant.

Source: WSOC-TV, "Officers on water stop drunken boaters on Carolina lakes," Greg Suskin, July 4, 2013

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