Getting out on your boat to water ski, fish or just relax is something people look forward to every summer in Pennsylvania. This could be especially true this year, as people have mostly been in their homes for the past few months.
But one thing that could seriously disrupt your enjoyment as you head out on the water this year is an arrest for boating under the influence (BUI). Even if you think you understand BUI laws in Pennsylvania, now is a good time to review them, as well as potential changes that could be coming this summer.
BUI laws and penalties in Pennsylvania
It is illegal to operate a watercraft while impaired by alcohol in Pennsylvania. If you are driving a boat and have a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit of 0.08 percent, you can be charged with BUI.
The consequences of a BUI are similar to those of a DUI in a car. And in fact, they could be increasingly similar if proposed legislation, which we examine in the next section, goes through.
Currently, a boater convicted of BUI can face penalties, including:
- Hefty fines
- Revocation of boating privileges
- The requirement to attend boating education courses
- Increased insurance premiums
- Jail time
Possible changes to BUI penalties
As we mentioned, state lawmakers have proposed changes to BUI laws and penalties. There are a couple of main elements of the legislation.
First, it would enhance penalties for BUI if there is a minor onboard. These penalties would align with those that someone charged with DUI would face, including increased fines and jail time.
Second, the proposed bill would lump drunk driving and drunk boating offenses together for the purposes of Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, which is a program that allows first-time offenders to face reduced penalties and potentially have their record expunged upon completion.
Currently, a person could be eligible for ARD after a first-time DUI, as well as a first-time BUI. If the bill passes, this would not be an option.
Addressing BUI charges
A BUI can ruin your summer, and so much more. As such, you should not operate a boat under the influence of alcohol. But if you do find yourself charged with BUI, you can contact the Quinn Law Firm at 814-833-2222 to discuss your legal options.