Boating Under the Influence (BUI) in South Carolina

Lake Wylie and the Catawba River are both popular spots for recreational water sports activities for residents of Rock Hill, South Carolina. But did you know that, just like there are laws for driving a car under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there are strict laws regarding boating while impaired, too? 

bui south carolina

Boating under the influence, or BUI, laws cover the operation of any watercraft – from motorboats, pontoons, sailboats, and other water vessels. A BUI conviction comes with severe punishments, just like a DUI would, including significant financial penalties and even incarceration.

Criteria for a BUI Conviction

It is not illegal to have open alcohol on board your boat. However, according to SC § 50-21-112, a person whose cognitive abilities are weakened substantially by alcohol or drugs is considered to be impaired while operating a motorized water vessel. 

The legal blood alcohol limit for operating a vehicle or a boat is 0.08. Additionally, if you refuse a breathalyzer, you can face penalties including the loss of your boating privileges. 

Penalties for a BUI in South Carolina

A BUI can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on various factors.

A misdemeanor BUI for a first conviction can face penalties of up to two days in prison or a period of community service, six months of revoked boating rights, and a financial penalty of up to $200. A second misdemeanor BUI conviction that happens within ten years of the first conviction can result in a 12-month revoked license and a maximum financial penalty of $5,000. A third misdemeanor offense comes with potential jail time of up to three years and a fine of up to $6,000. 

A BUI becomes a felony if another person is harmed or killed in an incident involving the boat operator’s impairment due to drugs or alcohol. Penalties for felony BUI include jail time of 15 years, loss of your boating license, and steep fines. 

Contact SeiferFlatow in South Carolina

If you are charged with any BUI or DUI in South Carolina, your first call should be to our experienced criminal defense attorney Ed Martin! No matter the circumstances, you need an attorney on your side who will ensure your rights are respected. Ed takes on each case with personalized, individualized attention – from your first call, click, or email. 

Let our South Carolina team take care of you and your case. Call us at 803-639-8719 or visit our website to contact us as soon as possible