You know you cannot get behind the wheel of your car after you have had too much to drink. Driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher is illegal not only in Ohio but across the country. But what about taking your boat out for a spin after a few beers? Under Ohio law, it is just as illegal to control a boat or any other type of watercraft when you are intoxicated as it is to drive a car. If you and your family and friends want to spend some time on the lake, it is still important to have a designated driver. However, if there were a mistake and you were taken into custody for boating while intoxicated, you need an experienced Cincinnati DUI lawyer to help handle the situation.
When you are charged with operating or controlling a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs, contact Cincinnati criminal defense attorney Bradley J. Groene at to schedule a consultation.
Boating While Intoxicated in Ohio
Ohio Chapter 1547.11 states that no one shall operate or be in physical control of any vessel, water skis, aquaplane, or other similar crafts or devices on the water in Ohio if that person:
- Is under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination of them, or
- Has a BAC at or above 0.08 percent.
If you are under 21 years old, a BAC at or above 0.02 percent will also lead to a charge.
Drugs of abuse include all controlled substances, dangerous drugs, and over-the-counter (OTC) medications that can impair a person’s judgment or reflexes. Examples of controlled substances are meth, cocaine, heroin, LSD, and marijuana. Dangerous drugs may sound like controlled substances but they include prescription medications like opioid painkillers. OTC medications that may affect your judgment and reflexes are antihistamines and other allergy medications, cold and cough medications, and sleep aids.
It is important to remember that a normal dose of an OTC can be greatly affected by alcohol or another medication. You may be too intoxicated to operate your boat after a two beers and one dose of antihistamine. If you were arrested for boating while intoxicated because of a medication interaction, call Bradley J. Groene right away.
When Your Boat Can be Stopped
When you are driving your car, police officers need reasonable suspicion that a crime is taking place or has been committed in order to pull you over. The rules are not the same when you are on a boat. Officers of the Coast Guard can stop your vessel at any time without a warrant and without any suspicion that you are violating the law. The Coast Guard can halt your movement for a safety inspection, and if there are signs of drinking, can check the boat operator’s sobriety. State, county, and city police may stop you on the water if they suspect the operator is intoxicated or that there may be a safety violation.
Remember that only the operator of the vessel must remain sober while on the boat. Passengers on the vessel are welcome to enjoy legal beverages and medications.
Who is the Boat’s Operator?
The driver of a car is clearly the person behind the wheel. But determining the operator of a vessel can become complicated. Very often, multiple individuals will know how to operate the vessel and may take turns being in charge. Sometimes people stop the boat to be able to swim around and no one is manning the helm. If you are stopped and there is no clear operator of the vessel, the officers may test multiple people’s sobriety or they will hold the owner of the boat responsible and test his or her sobriety.
If you were arrested for boating while intoxicated but you were not operating the boat at the time, make sure to call DUI attorney Bradley J. Groene right away and give him this information. If another person was responsible for controlling the vessel, you may not be guilty of breaking the law even if you were intoxicated.
Consequences of Boating While Intoxicated in Ohio
If you are found guilty of boating while impaired by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of these then you can be fined, sent to jail, and lose your boating privileges for up to 1 year. A first offense for boating while intoxicated is 3 days to 6 months in jail and a $150 to $1,000 fine. A second offense has a minimum of 10 days in jail with a similar fine. A third offense includes a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of 1 year in jail with a fine up to $1,000.
Implied Consent to Drug and Alcohol Testing
Ohio has an implied consent statute that states as a vessel operator, you already consent to undergo an alcohol or drug test such as a breath, urine, or blood analysis to determine if you are intoxicated. If you refuse to submit to a test, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources can prohibit you from registering or operating a watercraft for 12 months.
This is not the same as having your license taken away. Ohio only requires you to have a license if you use your boat for commercial purposes. If you own or operate a friend or family member’s boat simply for fun, you do not have a license that can be taken away. Also, a conviction for boating while intoxicated will not affect your driver’s license.
Contact a Cincinnati Criminal Lawyer for Help
No one wants a beautiful day on the lake or river to be ruined with a boating while intoxicated charge. You want to enjoy the sun and water with family and friends and maybe have a few drinks without worry. But a great day can go awry if the Coast Guard or local officers believe you have had too much. If you were stopped and charged with boating while intoxicated, call Bradley J. Groene of Luftman, Heck & Associates, LLP right away. Brad has years of experience defending Ohio residents like you and will do what he can to achieve the best possible outcome in your situation.