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Boating Under the Influence in Illinois

Updated on April 4, 2023 → Under

In Illinois boating under the influence (BUI) is a serious crime. Whether you’re operating a motorboat, sailboat, fishing boat, or personal watercraft such as a jet ski if you are operating any type of vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you can be charged by law enforcement officers with BUI. The penalties for BUI in Illinois can include fines, felony charges, jail time, and loss of your boating license.

If you are charged with BUI in Illinois, you should be aware that the law and court system will take the matter seriously. You may be required to appear in court and face criminal penalties if convicted. The severity of the penalty depends on several factors, including:

  • Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or amount of drugs present in your system;
  • What type of vessel you were operating;
  • Whether there was an accident or injury as a result of your impaired operation or losing physical control; and
  • Your previous convictions.

Boating under the influence charges in Illinois varies, ranging from days of community service to a year in jail. Fines, alcohol education classes, and drug treatment programs may also be required. Our criminal defense attorneys at Dohman Law Group can help in navigating such charges.

What Are the Criteria for Determining Boating Under the Influence?

Boating is a favorite summer activity for many Cook County lake residents, as there are countless rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water that provide numerous recreational opportunities. However, boaters need to understand that Illinois takes boating with high blood alcohol content levels very seriously.

Engaging in activities such as swimming or kayaking while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, even if not operating a vehicle, may result in BUI charges if the blood alcohol level test exceeds the legal limit.

In Illinois, BUI convictions can come with hefty fines, a felony conviction, and jail time. Furthermore, those convicted of BUI will likely face a recreational boating license suspension. Boating under the influence can result in serious penalties due to the zero-tolerance policy towards substance abuse while operating any vehicle, including motorboats.

If facing charges related to DUI offenses involving boats on Lake Michigan, it may be beneficial to seek legal representation from a reputable criminal defense law firm such as Dohman Law Group. Their criminal defense lawyers work to protect the legal rights of defendants.

Overview of Illinois Boating Laws

Illinois takes boating regulations and BUI offenses very seriously and has implemented heavy penalties for those found guilty of drunk boating. Intoxicated boating fines range from $500 to $2,500 depending on the seriousness of the offense, with additional financial charges possible as directed by the court.

Additionally, offenders can face anywhere between 48 hours to 12 months of prison service. When it comes to loss of driving privileges, convicted BUI offenders can have their boat registration suspended or revoked and have their recreational boating privileges taken away for up to 12 months or longer at the discretion of the court.

a vehicle towing a boat to  a lake

Convictions under BUI laws can lead to multiple devastating consequences, such as significantly higher insurance premiums or being denied future jobs or educational opportunities due to having a criminal record.

As such, anyone who has been caught operating a boat under the influence should strongly consider seeking an experienced boating accident lawyer immediately to minimize any potential criminal charges.

Penalties for Boating Under the Influence in Illinois

The state of Illinois has strict penalties for Boating Under the Influence (BUI), with a first offense classified as a class A misdemeanor DUI conviction, and carries fines up to $2,600 and up to 364 days in jail. Repeat offenders for common boating violations face even harsher penalties, including up to three years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.

To avoid these types of punishments related to BUIs, it’s important to always wear life vests while operating any type of watercraft, or boat on open waters in Lake county. Doing this is not only important for general safety but is also legally required in many states. It’s also important to avoid boating under the influence as this is considered an illegal act all around that could result in a criminal record being established despite age or other circumstances governing legal drinking ages.

First Offense Boating Under the Influence

Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is considered a severe offense with legal consequences in all states, and according to the IDNR, alcohol use is often a factor in fatal boating accidents.

A first-time conviction for a drunken boater in Illinois may result in a misdemeanor charge, imprisonment for up to one year, and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

Repeat Boating Under the Influence

For repeat offenders and those who have been convicted on multiple counts of boating while under the influence the punishments become more severe.

In some cases, BUI charges can be upgraded to Class 4 felony if someone is seriously injured during the incident leading to a permanent disability if the driver had a suspended license at the time of operation, or if they had been previously convicted of drunk driving. Class 4 felonies are still quite serious and will result in punishments such as mandatory community service, fines, and a maximum prison sentence.

Call Dohman Law Group for Help With BUI Charges

If you are caught boating under the influence (BUI) of drugs or alcohol in Illinois, you could face serious criminal penalties. A conviction may result in fines, license suspension, and even jail time depending on your case. It's important to act quickly if you're facing a boating DUI charge in Illinois.

The Dohman Law Group specializes in criminal defense, particularly in BUI cases on Illinois waterways. Our Cook County DUI attorneys are experienced in DUI defense and can provide guidance and representation to achieve a favorable outcome.

Contact Dohman Law Group today to discuss your case and legal options.

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