Boating and Booze – The Costs of a BUI in South Carolina

South Carolina is a wonderful place for boating, whether you are on the coast, river, or lake. For many South Carolinians, having a drink while out on the boat go hand in hand. If you are the captain of the boat or plan on operating the boat at any time while on the water make sure that you are drinking responsibly. It is not against the law in South Carolina to have an open container on the boat nor is it illegal to have a drink while driving a boat. However, it is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence. The law defines the term under the influence as “impairment to the extent that the person’s faculties to operate are materially and appreciably impaired.” A person can still be charged with boating under the influence (BUI) if the person is under the influence of drugs or a combination of drugs or alcohol.

Penalties Upon Conviction for a BUI

Officers are allowed to do safety checks on vessels without probable cause and many people are charge with a BUI following these safety inspections. Other people may be stopped for a minor infraction on the waterways or the officer may see someone driving recklessly with a beer in their hand. If probable cause is established for boating under the influence during the stop then the driver of the boat can be arrested for a BUI.

The penalties for a misdemeanor BUI are as follows:

  • BUI 1st- 48 hours – 30 days in jail, community service, fines, boating privileges suspended for 6 months, enroll in the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP), and a mandatory boating safety course
  • BUI 2nd- 48 hour – one year in jail, community service, a maximum of $5,000 in fines, boating privileges for a one year, ADSAP, and mandatory boating safety course
  • BUI 3rd- 60 days – 3 years in jail, a fine of $3,500 – $6,000, boating privileges suspended for 2 years, ADSAP, and a mandatory boating safety course

There is a separate charge for felony BUI that results from great bodily injury or death. This crime carries a penalty of 1-25 years in jail or a $5,000 – $10,000 fine.

Contact a Lawyer for Legal Help

We all want to have fun on the water and for many of us, that fun includes a few adult beverages. Getting a BUI in South Carolina is a serious offense and can be life-changing. If you choose to drink while out on the boat please drink responsibly and do not drive the boat if you have had one too many. Please contact us at Schiller & Hamilton if you have been charged with a BUI so that we can start working on your case as soon as possible.

We at Schiller & Hamilton Law Firm hope you and your family are safe & well. We wanted to let our friends and clients know that we are currently working regular office hours. However, in an effort to decrease in-person contact we encourage our clients to schedule an appointment by phone or Zoom. If an in-person appointment is necessary please note our offices are locked so please call our office number upon arriving. Our plan is to continue serving you and your family and providing the same level of professional service you’ve always received from us.
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