With summer in full-swing and temperatures rising, the number of boating accidents and DUIs will spike over the next couple months. This means that boat owners and operators should be on alert for law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, which will be taking aggressive action to catch and charge suspected boaters under the influence (BUI). According to the U.S. Coast Guard, boating season unofficially starts on Memorial Day and will extend through Labor Day weekend.
The Coast Guard also expects the risk of drinking and boating accidents to increase over the summer. One of the reasons is that equipment breaks-down, operators become more relaxed and careless, and many will take additional risks while drinking. Our Birmingham BUI defense attorneys are dedicated to protecting individuals who have been charged with DUI or boating under the influence. We understand the significant penalties that can come with a conviction, including loss of license, jail time, fines, and a criminal record. In the event of an accident, an experienced advocate can review your case and protect your rights throughout the process.
The U.S. Coast Guard in Alabama is located at Dauphin Island in the Eighth District. Patrols usually consist of four or five members and those individuals will serve four-year tours at the station they are assigned. Along the Alabama coastal waters, the Coast Guard will patrol in 45-foot jet-propelled boats that cost around $2 million each. The Coast Guard is responsible for monitoring navigable waters, ensuring safety, and in enforcement of the local, state, and federal laws. The U.S. Coast Guard also has the authority to enforce a federal law that prohibits BUI (boating under the influence).
According to Coast Guard statistics, alcohol contributed to approximately 17% of boating accidents, resulting in 560 deaths last year. These statistics are an incentive to seek out and catch drunk boaters. Reports indicate that the Coast Guard is routinely on the lookout for drunken boaters and will turn over drunk boaters to local police. While the Coast Guard cannot give Alabama DUIs, they can take legal action and turn suspected drunk boaters over to the police.
The Coast Guard has its own strict penalties for violation of BUI laws. States and the U.S. Coast Guard work collaboratively to enforce federal and state laws and to take aggressive action against impaired boaters. Depending on where you are stopped, the jurisdiction will vary. In waters that are controlled and overseen exclusively by states, state law enforcement agencies will enforce their own DUI/BUI statutes. In waters where there is concurrent jurisdiction the Coast Guard will likely turn the driver over to local authorities. In waters that are exclusively overseen by the federal government, the Coast Guard can terminate a voyage, arrest the operator, moor the boat, or turn the operator to local authorities.
Whether on the lake, on the coast, or far away from shore, it is important to know your rights and the consequences of a DUI/BUI arrest. When involved with a Coast Guard BUI, an experienced attorney can review the facts of your case and take strategic action to protect your rights.