When alcohol is involved, waterways can become just as dangerous as roadways. Boating accidents are on the rise every year. As a result, boat operators who are over the legal limit in North Carolina can be arrested and charged with BWI (Boating While Impaired).
|Woman drinks wine while behind the wheel of a boat.|
In the state of North Carolina, the driver of a motor vehicle cannot exceed a BAC (Blood Alcohol) level of .08%. The same rule applies to boaters. Nevertheless, boaters will not lose their driver’s license when found guilty of a BWI. However, there are still penalties as it is considered a serious crime.
There are three levels of BUI in North Carolina, which is defined is a class 2 misdemeanor. Level one includes no prior criminal convictions and comes with fines and 1-30 days of community service. Level two and three require more community service and could lead to harsher penalties and higher fines. The two higher levels are generally based on the number of prior convictions.
While these penalties may not be as severe as those that come with a DWI, it is easier for authorities to issue a BWI. An officer or wildlife enforcement official can pretty much stop your boat for any reason at all. It is not like an automobile stop where an officer needs to have probable cause.
A boating stop could occur for something as simple as checking to see if the boat is stocked with the proper amount of life vests. A stop could also take place if a boat is going too fast in a ‘no wake’ zone.
Once on board your vessel, an officer could simply use his sense of smell to suspect the operator of being impaired. Some field sobriety tests would follow and if deemed legally impaired, an arrest would ensue.
Alcohol can have more of an effect on boaters since outdoor elements such as the sun and wind could lead to quicker rates of intoxication. Someone drinking the same amount on land will not become impaired as quickly as those on water.
BWI remain one of the main causes for boating accidents in North Carolina. Those accidents can often have disastrous consequences. If you have been victim to a North Carolina boating accident, contact the legal team at Hefferon & Hefferon P.A., Attorneys at Law.
We are equipped with an experienced team of attorneys who can stand by your side and make sure you receive justice. Rely on our Charlotte injury attorneys to help with your boating accident or water recreation injury case.