OUI: What to Know About Drinking on a Boat this Summer

When the hot summer weather hits, two things tend to increase: time spent outdoors and partying. But there are certain instances in which those two things do not mesh well. One such activity: boating. 

In Arizona, the summer weather calls for more boating and recreational activities on the state’s lakes and waterways. It is also common for individuals on boats to partake in drinking. However, what some may not know is that as with a car, operating a boat while impaired by alcohol is illegal. Those who do so can be charged with the equivalent of a DUI on a boat. 

Operating Under the Influence

A DUI on a boat, is known as an OUI: operating under the influence. As is the case with a DUI, if a boat operator’s blood alcohol concentration is at least 0.08%, he or she can be charged with an OUI. If you are operating a boat erratically and are found to have any clear amount of alcohol in your system, you can still be charged with an OUI. But this is not some uncommon circumstance. In fact, during the summer months, police officers will work with the Arizona Game and Fish Department in order to patrol the waterways. 

Unfortunately, OUI is not some rare happenstance. According to the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Office, in 2017 the U.S. experienced a total of 4,291 boating accidents. These accidents led to the injury of 2,629 people and the deaths of 658. In the state of Arizona alone, those numbers were 77 and 13 respectively. In fact, the Coast Guard has found that alcohol consumption makes up one of the top five contributing factors to fatal boating accidents. 

Penalties of an OUI

An individuals OUI penalties are dependent upon a few different factors including whether or not you have prior convictions, what your blood alcohol concentration is, and whether you had any minors in the boat at the time of your arrest. 

First Offense

A first OUI offense is a class 1 misdemeanor, which includes 10 days to six months in jail and a fine upto $2,500. If your BAC is found to be at least 0.15% but less than 0.20%, you may be charged with an extreme OUI, in which case a conviction would yield a penalty of at least 30 days in jail. And if your BAC is 0.20% or higher, you will have a sentence of at least 45 days in jail.

Second Offense

Those who have been convicted of a second OUI within 84 months of their first will receive harsher penalties including at least 90 days in jail (30 days must be served consecutively). If you complete an alcohol assessment and classes, sixty days of that sentence may be suspended. Fines are generally up to $2,500, while jail time can be up to six months. Those who are convicted of an extreme OUI within 84 months of a prior conviction will receive at least 120 days in jail, for which only 60 days can be suspended. 

Third Offense

If an individual has been charged with a third OUI offense, the prosecutor has the right to decide whether or not you will be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor third offense OUI conviction requires at least six months in jail and a fine of $2,500. 

Aggravated OUI

Aggravated OUI occurs when an individual is convicted of a third offense within 84 months or if you have a minor younger than the age of 15 at the time that you are charged (even with a first offense).  If your third offense is a felony aggravated OUI, you are required to serve at least four months in prison. However, if you have at least three prior OUI offenses, the minimum sentence is eight months. 

When a minor is found on a boat with you when you are charged with OUI, you must serve at least 10 days in jail. If your BAC was 0.15% to less than 0.20%, and you had a minor under the age of 15 on the boat, you will serve at least 30 days in jail and if higher than 0.20%, that minimum number jumps to 45 days in jail. 

The Attorneys at Arizona Lawyers Help Those in AZ Who Have Been Charged with OUI

If you or a loved one has been charged with an OUI, it can be very scary. An OUI conviction can have a long-lasting negative impact on your life. This is why it is so important to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable Arizona personal criminal defense attorney. To learn more about how Arizona Lawyers can help, call for a free consultation at 602-726-2449 today!