Boating Under the Influence is illegal in Ohio. 2001 Sub. S.B. 123, eff. 1-1-04 sought to unify the drunk driving provisions with Ohio's boating laws. O.R.C. 1547.11(A)(1) to O.R.C. 1547.11(A)(6) prohibit a person from operating or being in physical control of a vessel underway or manipulating water skis, aquaplanes, or similar devices while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
O.R.C. 1547.11(A)(1) is the impairment provision of the law, preventing operation or physical control while under the influence. The law also has a provision preventing operation with a prohibited level of alcohol which it sets at the same prohibited level (.08) as the DUI/OVI law. Unlike the DUI/OVI law, there are no high-tier provisions which apply to boating. A third section of the law prohibits operation or physical control with a concentration of certain controlled substances (marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine, et al.) or metabolites of the same. This section of the law is identical to the DUI-drug provisions found in O.R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(j).
Subsequent amendments to the law, 2007 Am. Sub. S.B. 17, eff. 9-30-08, allows for forced blood draws for persons with two or BUI offenses. A BUI offense can be used to enhance a subsequent DUI/OVI offense. O.R.C. 4511.181(A)(6)-(7). Some important differences in Ohio's BUI law, stem from the fact that Ohio does not require an operator's license to operate a watercraft. Therefore, no administrative license suspension provisions are in the law. Instead, the chief of the Division of Watercraft gives written notice that you are prevented from operating or being in physical control of a watercraft (or from registering a watercraft) for one year from the date of the alleged violation. Another key difference is that a fourth or subsequent BUI offense is not subject to felony enhancement.
Penalties for Boating Under the Influence offenses are set forth at O.R.C. 1547.99 and are similar to those provided for DUI/OVI offenses. Boating Under the Influence is a first degree misdemeanor and is subject to a minimum 3-day jail sentence and a maximum 6 months in jail. The 3-day jail sentence can be served in a qualified driver intervention program. The minimum mandatory fine for a first BUI offense is $150. A second offense within 6 years carries a mandatory 10 day jail sentence, but the minimum mandatory fine is still $150. A third offense requires a minimum of 30 days in jail. NOTE: The Ohio legislature is constantly "tweaking" the Ohio DUI and BUI laws, so please check with an attorney as these laws may have changed. This posting was written on 9-24-10.
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