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Boating under the influence: Maryland’s laws and penalties

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2024 | CRIMINAL LAW - Drunk Driving

Many people understand the dangers and legal consequences of drunk driving, but these laws also apply to boating. In Maryland, operating a boat while impaired is a serious issue.

Understanding the specifics of this law and the potential consequences is crucial.

How the state penalizes those charged

State laws on operating a water vessel cover all sorts of watercraft – from yachts to jet skis. Anything used for travel on water or ice is considered a vessel. If you’re caught operating such a vessel with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, you’re legally classified as “under the influence of alcohol per se.” Under this law, impairment is defined as being under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both to the point where you cannot safely operate a vessel. The penalties for this can be severe, including a hefty fine or even imprisonment.

Additionally, if you cause a life-threatening injury to another person while impaired, you could face a misdemeanor charge. This might be due to reckless operation, high-speed collisions, or other negligent behaviors.

Maryland law sets the sentence for these offenses at up to three years imprisonment, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. These penalties could escalate significantly if you have previous convictions for similar offenses.

Avoiding the escalation of charges

It’s crucial to avoid escalating charges when facing a potential impaired boating conviction. Prior convictions for similar offenses can cause penalties to escalate. In Maryland, repeated offenses could lead to a maximum prison sentence of up to five years and a fine that could rise to as much as $10,000.

The laws surrounding impaired boating are as severe as those for driving a car while impaired. It’s important to stay safe, know your limits, and understand the legal consequences of your actions. If you’re facing charges, consider consulting with an attorney to help you understand your options under Maryland’s laws.