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Defining criteria for felony boating under the influence charges

In past blog posts, we've discussed how South Carolina statutes address boating under the influence. Essentially, the many of the same standards applied by law enforcement for land-based drivers also apply to boat operators.

Along that same line, South Carolina law outlines what constitutes a felony BUI charge. Much like land-based felony driving under the influence offenses, the prescribed punishments for such charges are no laughing matter.

According to the law, a person who is operating a water vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs and causes an accident could be struck with serious charges. The felony label takes effect if the person operating or in control of the boat causes "serious bodily injury" or death to another person

At first glance, "serious bodily injury" may seem like a slippery term. However, the following conditions can fit the definition of this particular phrase:

  • An injury that causes serious risk of death.
  • "Serious, permanent disfigurement" results from the injury.
  • Any injury that causes complete or partial loss of vital organ function.

Of course, when determining whether or not charges filed by law enforcement are appropriate, it will be important for the defense to ensure that these conditions are met.

If the criteria for felony BUI sound familiar, that's because they probably should. As we covered on March 21 of this year, state law defines felony DUI charges in a very similar way. This is just another demonstration of how seriously boating under the influence should be taken. Just because boating may not seem as complex or difficult as driving a vehicle, people should not forget that there are very strict laws that apply to both means of travel.

Source: South Carolina Legislature,SC Code 1976 § 50-21-112, accessed July 15, 2014

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