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Can you really be charged with boating under the influence?

The simple answer to this question is yes. Boating under the influence (BUI) of alcohol or drugs is a crime in South Carolina. A rise in fatal boating accidents in recent years led to changes in both federal and state laws to make it illegal to be impaired while driving a boat.

This means that state and federal marine patrols may pull over a boat if they suspect that its driver is impaired. In some places, BUI checkpoints are conducted to let boaters know not to drive their boats drunk. Officials may also take the opportunity to inform boaters of the dangers of being impaired while driving a boat and that they may actually be arrested for it.

As is the case with a conviction for driving under the influence in a car, the consequences of a conviction for boating under the influence can adversely affect an individual's life. In addition to any criminal penalties, such as incarceration, fines and the loss of your boating license, your insurance rates could go up for both your car and your boat. Your livelihood could also be affected.

Fortunately, the presumption of innocence applies to boating under the influence just as it does with any other offense for which you may be arrested. If you are facing a BUI charge, you are entitled to refute any evidence South Carolina prosecutors intend to present to the court. Evidence such as testing procedures and results can be challenged, and witnesses can be confronted. Further, a review of your specific circumstances could lead to the exploration of other options besides going to trial.

Source: FindLaw, "Boating Under the Influence Basics", , Aug. 27, 2014

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