Boating is a favorite pastime of many Maryland residents during the warmer seasons. While it gives people a sense of freedom and adventure, operating a boat carries responsibility. Like driving drunk, boating while intoxicated poses risks to everyone.
Maryland’s boating laws
Everyone understands that drunk driving is dangerous, but boating under the influence (BUI) is widely misunderstood. However, according to Maryland’s laws, BUI and boating while impaired (BWI) are illegal; you can face charges while operating a boat with alcohol or drugs in your system. Just like when you get into a car to drive, operating a boat with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is unlawful.
Boating under the influence or while impaired
Natural Resources Officers ensure that Maryland’s waterways are kept safe and that boaters comply with the law. BUI is classified as a misdemeanor offense and carries certain penalties. For a first offense, a person can face up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000. A second offense carries up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000 while a third or subsequent offense carries up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of $3,000.
You can be charged with BWI, a lesser offense, if you are impaired by alcohol, a first offense carries two months in prison and a fine of up to $500. For a second or subsequent offense, penalties include up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Officers can stop boaters they believe are impaired and ask them to take breath tests to determine their BAC. If a person refuses, they can face further penalties including being prohibited from operating a boat for up to one year. They can also face an additional year of imprisonment.