Criminal Defense Attorney Columbia, South Carolina

What Are the Penalties for Boating Under the Influence in South Carolina?

Young people drinking on the deck of a pleasure boat in South Carolina.

The consequences of a BUI conviction in South Carolina can be harsh

Boating is not new to the state of South Carolina. It's a popular activity across the state, especially when the weather starts to get warmer. Sometimes when people are out on the water, alcohol may be involved. And just as you can be charged for driving a motor vehicle under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, you can also be charged with boating under the influence (BUI).

Boating under the influence charges can come with severe penalties. If you or someone you know has been charged with boating under the influence in South Carolina, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away to get a clear understanding of your legal rights and options.

BUI in South Carolina

In South Carolina, the law prohibits you from operating a motorboat, jet ski, or sailboat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Law enforcement patrolling the waters may stop you for a safety check. If you're operating a boat and you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC ) of 0.08 percent or more—or if an officer has any evidence that you are under the influence— you can be arrested and charged with BUI.

Here are the penalties for boating under the influence in South Carolina:

  • First offense. This is a misdemeanor that comes with a $200 fine and up to 48 hours of incarceration or community service. For a first-offense BUI, you will also lose the privilege to operate any watercraft for 6 months.
  • Second offense. Fines can be from $1,000 to $5,000. A second-offense BUI also can mean jail time for at least 48 hours or community service for 10 days. Your boating privilege may be suspended for one year.
  • Third offense. For a third BUI offense, the penalties are a fine of $3,500 to $6,000, incarceration for 60 days to 3 years, and losing your right to operate a watercraft for 3 years.

When convicted of a BUI, you may be required to complete the Alcohol and Drug Safety Program (ADSAP) or a boating safety course. These courses can cost hundreds of dollars.

If you cause property damage, injuries, or death while boating under the influence in South Carolina, harsher penalties can apply. For example, if your BUI involves causing a serious bodily injury to someone else, it is a felony that can come with up to $10,000 in fines, up to 15 years of jail time, and suspension of your boating privileges for 3 years.

Contact a BUI lawyer today

Being charged with a BUI can quickly change your life. That's why it's important to consult an attorney so that you fully understand your legal rights and options.

Contact us today if you are facing BUI charges in the Columbia, South Carolina area. Attorney Matt Bodman is a former prosecutor who is trial-tested and knows the ins and outs of the South Carolina criminal justice system. To find out more about how we can help with your legal matter, schedule a free consultation today.

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