Summer is here, and the DUI defense attorneys at Joseph, Hollander & Craft know that many people will be heading to the lake to celebrate the 4th of July holiday. Whether you are heading to a destination resort or your local lake, be aware that you can be prosecuted for boating under the influence (“BUI”) just as you can be prosecuted for driving your car while under the influence. In Kansas, you may be subject to a BUI charge or conviction if you operate a boat while your blood alcohol level exceeds .08 or while any alcohol, drug, or a combination of both impair your ability to safely do so.

Law enforcement officers can stop a boat at any time to conduct a safety check. It is not necessary that they suspect the boat is unsafe or that the operator is impaired. Once law enforcement is aboard, be aware that an investigation for BUI may follow.

Law enforcement officers investigate suspected BUIs with seated sobriety tests. These tests are designed to test a person’s mobility and balance. They include the HGN (eye jerk test) and the finger-to-nose test (FTN). These tests can be challenged in court because the unique environment in which they are administered lends itself to many flaws. For example, the FTN test is often performed on a boat in rocking water. The subject of the test is supposed to put his finger to his nose while his eyes are closed and his head is tilted back. This is not likely to produce good results even when no is alcohol involved!

Penalties for a first BUI offense are up to one year in jail and/or a fine between $100 and $500. A second offense is punishable by imprisonment of 90 days to one year and the same fine range as a first offense. Any person convicted of BUI will be required to complete a boater safety education course. Anyone under 21 who has a blood alcohol level between .02 and .08 will face suspended boating privileges for 30 days on a first conviction and 90 days on a second conviction.

If you are charged with boating under the influence, our experienced DUI defense attorneys can help. With attorneys in Wichita (316-262-939), Topeka (785-234-3272), Lawrence (785-856-0143), and Overland Park (913-948-9490), Joseph, Hollander & Craft serves clients from the Oklahoma border to the Kansas City area.