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What is Boating While Intoxicated?

A seasoned DUI / DWI attorney will tell you it is the same as DUI / DWI, except, with a few notable exceptions, you're in a boat, not a car. And if you are operating boat under the influence, you are in a lot of trouble.

The legal limit is the same [.o8 BAC or higher]. The penalties are the same.

Maryland Law prohibits the operation or attempted operation of a boat while a person is:

  • Is impaired.
  • Is under the influence of alcohol.
  • Is so far under the influence of any drug, combination of drugs, or combination of drugs and alcohol that the person cannot operate a vessel safely, OR
  • Is under the influence of any controlled dangerous substance, as defined in the Digest of Criminal Laws, Natural Resources Article 8-738. [http://dnr.maryland.gov/boating/Documents/recreationvessels.pdf']

Practiced Maryland DUI / DWI attorneys have often been able to successfully beat a charge, arguing that act of pulling over the motorist, the "stop" of the motorist was "illegal" [i.e. not based on reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot, or that a rule of the road was violated]. If this argument is successful, a court may rule that any evidence obtained a result of that illegal roadside stop is inadmissible at trial. In a DUI case, that evidence would be, typically, the observations of the officer, the field sobriety tests and the breathalyzer results. This argument is not available in boating cases. The grounds to stop a boater are not as restrictive, and law enforcement does not need to articulate the same reasons as they would to justify the stopping of a motorist. Seasoned defense counsel knows that other arguments are available. 

     -This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 11/18/19.

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