Boating Under the Influence

Posted by Steve Eversole | Sep 02, 2007 | 0 Comments

Summer Time brings new and inexperienced boaters to the lakes and waterways all over Alabama.  Many people are unaware that you can be convicted of Boating Under the Influence.  Here is Alabama's Boating Under the Influence Law below.  Notice how the penalties are the same for operating a car or a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs:

§ 32-5A-191.3. Operation of vessel and other marine devices while under influence of alcohol or controlled substances.

(a) A person shall not operate or be in actual physical control of any vessel, or manipulate any water skis, aquaplane, or any other marine transportation device on the waters of this state, as the waters are defined in Section 33- 5-3, under any condition in which a person would be guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs pursuant to Section 32-5A-191 if the person was driving or controlling a motor vehicle.

(b) In the case of a vessel or other marine device described in subsection (a), where a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that the operator of the vessel or other marine device is operating in violation of this section, the law enforcement officer is authorized to administer and may test the operator, at the scene, by using a field breathalyzer or other approved device, as a screening device, to determine if the operator may be operating a vessel or device in violation of subsection (a). Refusal to submit to a field breathalyzer test or other approved testing device shall result in the same punishment as provided in subsection (c) of Section 32-5-192 for operators of motor vehicles on the state highways.

(c) The fact that any person charged with violating this section is or has been legally entitled to use alcohol or a controlled substance shall not constitute a defense against any charge of violating this section.

(d) Upon a first or subsequent conviction, a person violating this section shall be punished in the same manner and under the same conditions as a person convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs pursuant to Section 32-5A-191, or any successor section or sections providing for the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, except that in any case where reference is made to the Director of Public Safety and the driving privilege or driver's license of the person, the reference shall be deemed to refer to the Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources and the vessel operating privilege or boater safety certification of the person convicted under this section.

(e) Neither reckless or careless operation of a vessel, nor any other boating or water safety infraction, is a lesser included offense under a charge of operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.

(f) All fines collected for violation of this section as to vessels or other marine devices on the waters of this state shall be paid into the State Water Safety Fund.

(g) A person who has been arrested for violating this section shall not be released from jail under bond or otherwise, until there is less than the same percent by weight of alcohol in the person's blood as specified in subdivision (1) of subsection (a).

(h) Upon verification that a defendant arrested pursuant to this section is currently on probation from another court of this state as a result of a conviction for any criminal offense, the prosecutor shall provide written or oral notification of the defendant's subsequent arrest and pending prosecution to the court in which the prior conviction occurred.

(i) When any person over the age of 21 years is convicted pursuant to this section and a child under the age of 14 years was present on the vessel or other marine device described in subsection (a) at the time of the offense, the defendant shall be sentenced to double the minimum punishment that the person would have received if the child had not been present.

(j) "Vessel," for the purposes of this section, shall mean any vessel as defined in Section 33-5-3, operated on the waters of this state, as defined in Section 33-5-3.

(k) No provision of this section shall be construed to assess points for DUI convictions under motor vehicle convictions for driving under the influence.

About the Author

Steve Eversole

Admitted to practice in All State and Federal Courts in Alabama: AllAlabama State Courts, Alabama Supreme Court, Alabama Court of Appeals,Northern...


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