Every summer thousands of people come to western Kentucky to enjoy our lakes and waterways. If you’re operating a boat, you should be aware that boating accidents can have serious consequences.
What if there is an accident?
Most of us don’t spend nearly as much time operating boats as we do driving. Accidents can and do happen, whether or not alcohol is involved. If you own a boat, please get liability insurance. Boat liability insurance is relatively cheap, and can protect you financially if an accident happens. On the other hand, insurance can’t protect you from the possibility of criminal charges… If there is an accident and officers believe it involves alcohol (or drugs), it is very likely they will conduct a BUI investigation –Boating Under the Influence. BUI is not the worst charge in the world, but it can result in a criminal conviction and should be taken seriously. See this article for more information on Kentucky BUIs.
What about other charges?
In addition to possible Kentucky BUI charges, a boater can be charged with many of the things that the driver of a car could be charged with. For instance, if the operator of a boat causes property damage, he could be charged with criminal mischief. If he causes someone to be injured, he could be charged with assault. If someone is killed, the operator could be charged with manslaughter or even murder. Obviously, these charges can be extremely serious. Almost all criminal charges stemming from boating accidents require proof of criminal intent. After all, sometimes accidents happen and it is not really anyone’s “fault.” For instance, criminal mischief requires proof that the operator damaged property, but it also requires proof that the operator did so intentionally or wantonly (wantonness is a mental state somewhat like recklessness). In many cases, the mere fact that there was an accident is not enough to show that a crime has been committed. On the other hand, proof that an operator was intoxicated may show that he was wanton, which could support a criminal charge. Be aware that just because a person is charged with a crime doesn’t mean they are guilty – or that the prosecution could get a conviction if the case went to trial. One thing that is true regardless of what charges are brought – anyone who is accused of a crime should consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, or if you have questions about criminal charges related to boating, contact Edwards and Kautz at 270-908-4914.