Boating Under The Influence Penalties in Michigan bui attorney

Like a typical Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) charge, the penalties for boating under the influence in Michigan are steep. Michigan has some of the harshest drunk driving laws in the nation, and boating under the influence (BUI) is no exception. If you’re facing charges, immediately speak with a BUI attorney.

Michigan has historically held the record for most registered boats in the country (and has over 11,000 inland lakes in addition to the five great lakes).

This makes BUI a very common charge in the state, especially during holiday weekends such as Labor Day.

Below, we outline the typical penalties associated with boating under the influence in Michigan and how to fight a BUI charge.

Facing BUI charges? Unhappy with your current BUI attorney? Request a free consultation now.

What is BUI?

Michigan defines a motorboat as any vehicle propelled by a motor in the water. Therefore, speedboats, pontoons, yachts, motorized fishing boats, and jet skis all fall under this definition.

You can be convicted of a BUI for…

Before 2015, Michigan’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for boating was higher than driving a car at 0.10 percent. However, stricter BUI laws adopted that year lowered the BAC for boating to 0.08 percent.

Penalties for BUI

Similar to OWI, the consequences for BUI are as follows:

  • First offense: Misdemeanor; up to 45 days of community service, a maximum of 93 days in jail, and/or fines ranging from $100 to $500. Possible suspension of motorboat operation for one (1) to two (2) years.
  • Second offense: Misdemeanor; up to 90 days community service and up to one year in jail, and/or $200 to $1,000 in fines. Mandatory suspension of motorboat operation for at least two (2) years.
  • Third offense: Felony; one (1) year to five (5) years in jail and/or $500 to $5,000 in fines. If you have two priors within the past ten (10) years, the court must suspend your privilege to operate a motorboat indefinitely.

Keep in mind that a BUI can be grouped with other charges depending on the circumstances, such as an implied consent violation or possession of a firearm under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Owners of watercraft aren’t exempt from prosecution either; an owner who allows an impaired person to operate their watercraft can also be charged with a misdemeanor, with up to 93 days in jail.

Facing BUI charges? Unhappy with your current BUI attorney? Request a free consultation now.

What is BWVI?

There is also a lesser charge known as boating while visibly impaired (BWVI). You can be convicted of a BWVI for operating a motorboat while “visibly impaired” by drugs and/or alcohol.

Penalties for BWVI

Similar to Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI), the penalties for a BWVI are as follows:

  • First offense: Misdemeanor; up to 45 days of community service, a maximum of 93 days in jail, and/or a maximum fine of $300. Possible suspension of motorboat operation for six (6) months to one (1) year.
  • Second offense: Misdemeanor; mandatory sentence of up to 90 days community service, up to one (1) year in jail and/or $200 to $1,000 in fines. Mandatory suspension of motorboat operation for one (1) to two (2) years.
  • Third offense: Misdemeanor; mandatory sentence of up to 90 days community service, up to one year in jail, and/or $200 to $1,000 in fines. up to 90 days community service (option two). If you have two more priors within the past ten years, the court must suspend your privilege to operate a motorboat indefinitely.

If you were charged with BUI, being able to negotiate a lesser plea of BWVI is possible with a skilled and knowledgeable attorney by your side.

Facing BUI charges? Unhappy with your current BUI attorney? Request a free consultation now.

Passenger Under 16

Michigan takes the safety of minors very seriously. That’s why BUI offenses are handled extra harshly if there was a passenger under 16 years old with you.

The penalties for boating under the influence with a passenger under 16 years old are as follows:

  • First offense: Misdemeanor; $200 to $1,000 in fines, mandatory sentence of five (5) days to one (1) year in jail or 30 to 90 days of community service.
  • Second AND Third offense: Felony; $500 to $5,000 in fines. Mandatory suspension of one (1) to five (5) years in prison OR 30 days to one year in jail and 60 to 180 days of community service.

This offense is often grouped with additional charges, such as child endangerment. This will add more fines, jail time, and/or community service.

BUI Involving Injuries of Death

As expected, this is by far the most serious BUI charge.

If you caused serious impairment of a body function of another person” while operating a motorboat under the influence, you will face a felony. This holds a prison sentence of up to five (5) years and/or fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

If you caused the death of another person while operating a motorboat under the influence, the offense is a felony and carries up to 15 years in prison and/or fines from $2,500 to $10,000.

Facing BUI charges? Unhappy with your current attorney? Request a free consultation now.

Avoid Harsh Boating Under the Influence Penalties with the Right Lawyer

A BUI is a serious offense. However, there may be ways to defend your case or seek a reduced charge.

We understand that poor judgement and the relaxed attitude the water brings can lead to unfortunate mistakes. Most of the time, those charged with boat violations are those who don’t have a prior criminal record.

Contact our team of experienced criminal defense lawyers today to learn how we can defend your BUI case.

Barton Morris, Michigan’s ONLY ACS Forensic Lawyer-Scientist, is our principal attorney and trains our team. Therefore, we know how to fight complex alcohol and drug-related cases.

Facing BUI charges? Unhappy with your current BUI attorney? Request a free consultation now.

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