Maryland DUI Boating Under the Influence
Although boating is one of the most popular activities in Maryland, many residents do not realize that boats are classified as motor vehicles under the state’s DUI laws. In other words, it is against the law for a person to operate a boat if he or she is under the influence of alcohol. Here’s what you need to know about Maryland DUI and boating under the influence.
Legally speaking, a driver is considered impaired if the amount of alcohol in his or her bloodstream reaches a percentage of 0.08% or higher. Like any driver, you can be arrested and charged with drunk driving if you are operating a boat with an illegal amount of alcohol in your system.
Despite their similarities, there is one big difference between a standard DUI and a boating DUI charge: when it comes to probable cause requirements, boaters are far less protected. For example, while the law requires police officers to have a reason for stopping a vehicle, the Maryland Natural Resources Police Department and US Coast Guard are authorized to search your boat at any time. In fact, most of the individuals arrested for boating under the influence are charged after the authorities perform a standard inspection.
During a boat inspection, officers may ask you to perform one or more field sobriety tests so they can determine whether you are impaired. Because these tests are designed for use on land, their results are not always reliable—and while others were recently created to be used on boats, such tests are relatively new and subject to error as a result.
Of course, DUI charges are ultimately based on a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC)—and regardless of whether you’re operating a car or a boat, you can expect to be arrested and charged with DUI if you have a BAC of 0.08% or more. And although a boating DUI conviction will not affect your driving privileges, it could lead to the permanent loss of your boating license. In addition, you may be fined up to $1,000 and face up to a one-year jail sentence if you are found guilty of boating under the influence.