Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Boating Under the Influence: Get the Facts

With the arrival of summer and the temperatures rising in Nevada, thousands of locals and tourists will be heading to Lake Mead, Lake Tahoe, and many other great boating spots throughout the state. 

While enjoying your time on the water, be sure to remember that operating a boat while under the influence is a crime, just like drunk driving. According to NRS 488.410, it is a criminal offense in the state of Nevada to operate or be in physical control of a boat with a BAC of .08% or higher. Boating under the influence (BUI) is similar in many ways to driving under the influence, and even carries similar penalties.

First BUI
A first offense of boating under the influence is charged as a misdemeanor, punishable by:
  • Incarceration in county jail for a maximum of 6 months, and/or
  • Fines up to $1,000

BUI Causing Injury or Death
If your BUI incident caused another person to suffer serious bodily harm or be killed, you will be charged with a category B felony, punishable by:
  • Incarceration in state prison for 2 to 20 years
  • Fines between $2,000 and $5,000

Fighting BUI Charges

If you are charged with BUI, it’s important to know that you do have defense options. Your options will depend upon your specific circumstances, but examples of possible defenses include:

You weren’t driving the boat.
If the officer saw your boat from far across the water, it’s very possible that they were unable to see exactly who was behind the wheel. The officer could have mistaken you for the driver, when it was actually another passenger. The long distance, glare on the water, and fact that the boat was moving could all make it difficult to accurately identify the driver.

The officer misinterpreted the field sobriety test results.
Field sobriety tests can be difficult to perform on solid ground, and passing these tests on an unsteady boat is nearly impossible. Spending hours on the water in the heat can also impact your balance and coordination, especially if you are dehydrated. The officer could have incorrectly interpreted the effects of a long day on the water – such as blood shot eyes, shaking arms and legs, and slight disorientation – as signs of intoxication.

The Breathalyzer did not get an accurate reading.
In order to achieve an accurate BAC reading, breath machines must be routinely maintained and properly calibrated. If the Breathalyzer used on you was defective or incorrectly calibrated, your test results could be inaccurate. Likewise, if the officer incorrectly administered the breath test, the machine may not have gotten a true measurement of your BAC.

Because BUI carries serious penalties in Nevada, it’s important to make sure you have a top defense attorney on your side. Contact our experienced team at De Castroverde Law Group to learn how we can assist you with protecting your rights and fighting the charges.