Boating Under the Influence in St. George 

Let BUI Attorney Edward D. Flint Protect Your Rights & Freedom

There are plenty of federal and state lakes and reservoirs to enjoy boating in Utah, like Sand Hollow State Park, Quail Creek Reservoir, and Lake Powell. Unfortunately, alcohol consumption is sometimes involved, which can result in a boating under the influence (BUI) charge. If you have been arrested for BUI in Utah, you must hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you avoid serious criminal penalties.

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Utah BUI and Field Sobriety Tests

Boat cases use non-standard field sobriety tests because boats rock and move and deck space is limited. You cannot perform standard tests such as the one leg stand or the 9-step walk and turn tests, so officers may use the finger count, finger to nose, and other less accurate tests. These tests have been replaced by the Standardized tests from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) manual.

When It Comes to Field Sobriety Tests in Utah, There Are a Few Important Things to Consider:

  • You are not required to perform any field sobriety tests, so don’t;
  • You are required to submit to a chemical test (breath or blood, officer’s choice) and if you refuse, you drivers license will be suspended for 18 months minimum and the officer will obtain a warrant and draw your blood anyway.
  • Submit to the chemical test AFTER you are arrested. Utah Code 41-6a-520 is the implied consent law.

Utah BUI Laws 

Utah doesn’t have a separate set of laws for BUI offenses. Rather, the courts prosecute BUI under the state’s DUI statutes. This means operating a “vehicle or motor vehicle” (whether it’s a car or boat) within the state (either on a road or waterway) while having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .05 percent or under the influence of drugs/alcohol to a point that is considered dangerous to operate a vehicle.

Not only can state police officers investigate and arrest individuals for BUI, but also officers of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and other park rangers. However, parties other than the state police must have certification in Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) in order to make BUI arrests.

BUI Penalties in Utah

It is important to note that both state and federal boat cases always involve other charges, because rangers need another violation to board the boat (i.e. running lights not on 2 minutes after sunset or an open container of alcohol). Those kinds of violations rack up huge fines, in addition to the BUI.

The Following Are the Penalties for a First-Time BUI Offense:

  • A jail sentence of up to six months (with a minimum of 48 hours behind bars)
  • A maximum fine of $1,000 (not including court fees)
    • Fines range from $1,420 to $1,943 with surcharges and court fees
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to 120 days
    • This increases to 2 years on a second or subsequent offense, includes alcohol restricted license and ignition interlock requirements, and stays on your record for 10 years minimum

In federal court the penalties are similar - they also enforce the 2 days of jail, usually at either the Kane or Washington County jail, and the magistrate judge requires that court convene in tiny Big Water, Utah, near Lake Powell. As your attorney, I can almost always get the case resolved in St. George, and often with no jail.

Felony BUI 

In Utah, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In some cases, the DUI or BUI can be classified as a felony. In order for a BUI to be considered a felony, certain factors must be present. For example, if a person has a criminal history of operating vehicles under the influence or has an unusually high blood alcohol content (BAC) at the point of arrest they could be charged with a felony. Additionally, property damage could be an aggravating factor.

The consequences of a felony BUI vary based on criminal history. Possible penalties include: 

  • Up to five years in prison or 60-120 days in jail and up to 120 consecutive days in house arrest 
  • Fines up to $1,500 including fees 
  • Court ordered installation of an ignition interlock device
  • Court-ordered sobriety program participation 
  • Driver license suspension

For repeat offenders, prison/jail terms and other sentencing guidelines may be subject to enhancement. Additionally, if there is property damage or injuries as a result of the BUI restitution may be required. If a BUI involves a fatality, it may be charged as manslaughter.

Multiple BUIs in Utah

Multiple BUI convictions in Utah can have serious consequences. Depending on the circumstances, penalties for multiple BUI convictions in Utah can include:

  • Second BUI – If you are charged with a second BUI within 10 years of a prior BUI conviction, that is a class A or B misdemeanor. This can result in a minimum of 10 days in jail, 240 hours of community service, or 240 hours of home confinement, and up to $1,500 in fines and fees.
  • Third BUI – If you are charged with a third BUI within 10 years of two prior BUI convictions, that is a third-degree felony. This can result in up to five years in prison or 1,500 hours of home confinement or jail time. In addition, you could face up to $2,800 in fines and fees.

It is essential for individuals who have been charged with their second or third BUI to understand the full scope of what they're up against if they want to make informed decisions about their case. Bottom line, if you have been charged with a second or third BUI in Utah, it is important to consult with an experienced BUI defense lawyer, because these penalties can be severe and negatively impact your life for years to come.

Federal Boating While Under the Influence Charges (BUI)

Operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a federal offense commonly referred to as Boating Under the Influence or BUI. Section 46 USC 2302 (c)/33 CFR 95 outlines the regulations regarding BUI, and if you are found on federal waterways in a vessel while under the influence, you could face federal charges.

A Federal BUI charge is a serious crime with severe penalties upon conviction: 

  • Operating a boat with a blood alcohol content of .05% or greater is illegal in Utah.
  • Some states may suspend boating licenses or revoke privileges upon conviction of boating while under the influence.
  • Boaters caught operating under the influence may face fines, jail time, criminal charges, and mandatory enrollment in a substance abuse treatment program or an alcohol education class.
  • A federal BUI charge can result in the loss of driving privileges and have an impact on driving records and insurance coverage.
  • Boats may be seized, impounded, and even sold at auction for those found guilty of boating while under the influence.

An operator of a recreational boat who has a blood alcohol content of .05% in Utah is subject to penalties that include a civil penalty of up to $1,000, a criminal penalty not to exceed $5,000, one-year imprisonment, or both. If a Coast Guard official cites an intoxicated operator, they can also be cited by state or local law enforcement officials, which could result in further criminal penalties, including arrest, fines, and loss of motor vehicle driving privileges.

Ready to Start Your Defense Today

An arrest doesn’t automatically mean guilt. You still have a chance to fight the charges against you with the help of a St. George BUI defense lawyer. I am prepared to guide you through the complexities of the criminal justice system and ensure you get the most favorable outcome.

I am committed to helping you get your charges/penalties reduced or your entire case dismissed. I can thoroughly review your case, figure out your available legal options, and protect your rights and future throughout the legal process. With more than 33 years of legal experience with over 100 jury trials under my belt, I understand what it takes to obtain the best possible results inside and outside the courtroom.

Providing representation for BUI cases in Lake Powell, Gunlock Reservoir, Sand Hollow Reservoir, Quail Creek Reservoir, and Zion National Park.

Call (435) 740-8460 today for more information about my legal services in Washington County.

What Sets Us Apart From The Rest?

Edward D. Flint is here to help you get the results you need with a team you can trust.

  • More than Three Decades of Experience
  • Experience with Over 100 Jury Trials
  • Trustworthy Reputation in the Legal Community
  • Reasonable Payment Plans Available
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