Alcohol was associated with close to one-quarter of recreational boating fatalities in 2014, according to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). Boating requires the ability to make quick decisions in order to avoid collisions with other vessels and steer safely through the water. When you have alcohol in your system, your judgment and reaction time are negatively impacted.
Kentucky’s Boating Under the Influence (BUI) laws were implemented to reduce the risk of fatalities and serious injuries caused by boaters who have been drinking. Operation Dry Water seeks to raise public awareness of BUI laws and boating safety. Operation Dry Water Operation Dry Water (ODW) is an annual joint effort carried out by the U.S. Coast Guard, NASBLA and local law enforcement agencies. ODW is designed to increase awareness of the dangers of operating a boat while under the influence. During Operation Dry Water, which runs from June 26th through June 28th this year, boaters will be able to view safety information be posted near boating ramps and officers will be carrying out boat inspections on the state’s rivers and lakes. Officers will be making a point to be available for answering your questions about safety on the water. In addition to raising public awareness of BUI laws, officers will be checking that you have life jackets and other safety equipment to keep yourself and your passengers safe. Feel free to ask questions about boating laws to ensure that you are operating your vessel as safely as possible. BUI Laws Under Kentucky law, anyone with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level of .08 or higher can be charged with boating under the influence. If authorities suspect that you are operating a vessel while drinking, they can pull you over for a breathalyzer test. If you are pulled over on suspicion of intoxication while operating a boat, you may be required to perform a seated battery of standardized field sobriety testing. These tests were developed to check sobriety while taking into account the loss of balance that can occur after spending all or part of the day on the water. The penalties for BUI in Kentucky depend on how many times a person has been convicted. First offense: $200-$250 fine Second offense: $350-500 fine Third offense: $600-$1,000 fine, jail time, or both a fine and jail time. Court costs and a safe boating course can be ordered as well. If you are suspected of operating a boat while under the influence of a substance you may be asked to take a breathalyzer test, blood test or both. In Kentucky, refusal to take a test may constitute an offense as well. If you have been charged with BUI contact a lawyer familiar with maritime law to assist you in contesting the charge. If you need a lawyer for assistance with a possible BUI conviction in Kentucky, contact Edwards & Kautz Law Firm or call 866-795-5087 for your free consultation. Our experienced BUI attorneys are ready to assist you with any questions you may have.