Oklahoma Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

Boating and Alcohol

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

Many people enjoy boating and having an adult beverage; that is not illegal but operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol is illegal. The laws for Boating Under the Influence (BUI) are similar but not the same as driving under the influences (DUI).

First, the per se threshold for BUI is .08.

Second, a BUI does not cause a drivers license revocation.

Third, a BUI charge results only in a fine of 0-$1000 for a first offense and $1000-$2500 for subsequent offenses—no jail time

Fourth, breath/blood testing follows the same procedures as with a DUI –BUT, a refusal is treated as a criminal act in boating. That is if you refuse to take a breath or blood test you have violated the law and are guilty. The authors think there are possible constitutional issues involved with this section but to date, there are no published cases dealing with this issue

Fifth, you can be charged for ‘operating’ the vessel if you operate it, have actual physical control, or have charge of the navigation or use of the vessel. Vessel includes any device capable of being used as a means of transportation on the water. This could possibly be stretched to include rafts and tubes.

Sixth, CAUTION—if you allow someone to operate a vessel while under the influence you are subject to a fine of $50-$250 AND up to six months in jail… yes, you can go to jail for allowing someone to operate your boat while intoxicated but if you operate you boat while intoxicated you will only face a fine!!!

There seems to be a conflict between the two criminal statutes due to the definition of the term “operate”. It appears it would be difficult to charge you with the jail offense if you were actually on board the craft but that would depend on the specific facts and, again, that is unclear in case law.

Seventh, a death due to negligence operation of a vessel is subject to one year in jail just like regular negligent homicide as previously discussed.

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