Beware of the Wisconsin BUI (Boating Under the Influence)

It’s summertime in Wisconsin. Crank up that motor and head on out to party cove or the sand bar, where time is measured by the sun and amount of drinks remaining in the cooler.  Taking the boat out on the lake is a great way to beat the summer heat.  Whether you are boating, Jetskiing, tubing or fishing, having a nice cold one in hand is just the icing on the cake, but it could also be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  Conservation wardens and boat patrols are scanning the lakes for boaters who have had a few too many drinks.

Wisconsin BUI Penalties

In the State of Wisconsin, the Legal Blood Alcohol limit is under .08, whether driving a boat or a vehicle.  Relatively similar to Commercial Drivers, Operating a Commercial Motorboat has a legal limit of .04.  Wisconsin Statutes 30.681 and 30.80(6)(a) authorize a fine of $150-300 for a first offense of operating a motorboat under the influence or violating the refusal law.  A second offense, within five years of a prior boating offense, shall face a fine of $300-$1,000 and possible jail time.  A third offense or more has consequences of a fine and substantial jail time.  While boating under the influence does not affect the privileges of operating a motor vehicle, offenders will have to comply with court ordered Alcohol and Other Drug Assessment and provide a Certificate of satisfactory completion of a boating safety course.  If a person has a valid certificate at the time of arrest, that certificate is revoked and a new certificate must be acquired.

Operation Dry Water

Since 2009, conservation wardens and law enforcement officers scan the lakes and rivers of the nation to enforce safe boating and crack down on intoxicated boat operators.  This past weekend marked the national event of Operation Dry Water.  The purpose of this event is to remove drunk boat drivers and educate boaters on the dangers of operating a boat under the influence of an intoxicant.

Dangers of Boating Under the Influence

While it may not seem like a big issue to have a few drinks on the lake and then drive the boat back to the pier, it is much more dangerous than driving on the road.  One in five boating related deaths occur with a driver under the influence.  The fact that lakes do not have “road signs” or lanes in which to drive deters a boat driver under the influence.  Just think of that wide open waterway ahead, but in just one moment, a boat with a water skier or tubing passenger appears.  After having a few drinks, the attention of the driver lies with what is right in front of them, rather than checking all angles and directions.  Boating safely means paying attention to your speed and direction, as well as the speed and direction of other watercrafts on the lake.

Hiring a Wisconsin BUI Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with boating under the influence, Contact Attorney Nathan J. Dineen, of Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C. at 1-877-384-6800 or Complete a Free Online Case Evaluation.  Attorney Dineen has the experience and knowledge of defending intoxicated drivers whether on land or water.  So when you are out on the lake and enjoying the summer sun, think before you drink and operate your motorboat safely.

Nathan J. Dineen