DUI/DWI While Boating

DUI/DWI While BoatingWhile you may be aware that driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI) by alcohol or drugs is a crime, you may not be aware that drunk boating is also a crime. Unlike some states, Maryland has a law that expressly prohibits boating under the influence or BUI.


BUI laws are similar to DUI laws. If you are found operating a watercraft with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more, you can be charged with BUI. In fact, you can’t operate a watercraft under any of the following circumstances:

  • Under the influence of alcohol (BAC of .08% or higher)
  • While impaired by drugs (BAC less than .08% but other signs of impairment)
  • While impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol
  • While impaired by any controlled substance, including prescription medications

Watercraft includes a boat, personalized watercraft, passenger vessel, or jet ski.

Maryland law clearly states that if you choose to operate a boat in Maryland waterways, you have automatically consented to be tested for drugs and alcohol by law enforcement officials for BUI. A refusal to submit to testing can result in a suspension of your boating privileges for up to one year. However, unlike in DUI cases, law enforcement cannot compel someone to take a breathalyzer test unless they have been involved in an accident involving serious injury or death.


Penalties for a BUI are similar to penalties for a DUI offense. You can be subject to up to one year in jail or $1,000 fine for your first offense. A second offense will lead to double the penalties. For a third or subsequent offense, the penalty is up to 3 years in jail and a $3,000 fine. In addition, you can have your boating license or privilege to operate on Maryland waterways suspended or revoked entirely.


If you’ve been arrested for boating under the influence, you should consult with an experienced criminal attorney. The attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, will work hard to get you the best possible outcome. Contact us online or call us at 301-321-7277 for a free consultation.

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