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Stay Safe, Boaters: Do Not Risk a DUI Arrest on the Water

Posted on in DUI Defense

IL DUI lawyerMemorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer in Illinois, and anyone with a boat (or a friend with a boat) is eager to get out on the water. And what is a day on the water without a cooler full of ice and beverages? Just remember: Safety first. Nobody wants to end an otherwise good day on the water with somebody in the back of a police car—or worse, an ambulance. Drunk boating, also known as operating under the influence (OUI), is a serious offense in Illinois, akin to drunk driving on the road.

Operating a Watercraft Under the Influence Is a Crime

Under Illinois law (625 ILCS 45/5-16), it is a crime to be in physical control of a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any other intoxicants that render the driver incapable of safely operating the watercraft. The term “watercraft” includes all motorized vessels including Jet Skis and all non-motorized craft such as sailboats, kayaks, and canoes.

Boating Under the Influence Is Determined the Same Way as DUI

To determine if a boater is impaired by intoxicants, law enforcement officers use the same methods that they use for establishing DUI on the road, including officer observations, standardized field sobriety tests, and breath testing. A boater will be judged “incapable of safe operation” by the same standards applied for DUI: a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, a THC (marijuana) level of 5 nanograms per milliliter of whole blood or higher, or any trace of other drugs. A boater who refuses chemical testing will be subject to a two-year suspension of their watercraft operating privileges.

Penalties for Operating Under the Influence Are Stiff

OUI is, at minimum, a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. As with DUI, only a first-time OUI offense is eligible for court supervision. The boater’s watercraft operation privileges will not be suspended for a first-time offense, but a repeat offense will result in a one-year suspension imposed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

If the boater has a previous conviction for OUI, or causes serious injury or death, the offense is elevated to a felony.

Seek Advice from a DUI / DOI Defense Attorney in Oak Brook

In Illinois, operating a watercraft under the influence is as serious a crime as driving under the influence. If you are arrested and charged with OUI, talk to an experienced DuPage County DUI defense lawyer immediately. The attorneys at McMahon Law Office will work aggressively on your behalf to investigate the circumstances of your arrest, negotiate with the prosecutor, and, if necessary, advocate for you in court to get you the best possible outcome. For a free consultation, call 630-953-4400.






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