Recently, there have been a rash of alcohol related boating accidents in Rhode Island. From a fatal boating accident off Conimicut Point in Warwick to the two boaters who drowned in Johnsons Pond in Coventry, alcohol related boating incidents appear to be on the rise in 2017. We have represented a number of clients facing boating under the influence charges. The statutory scheme can be quite confusing and it can sometimes be difficult to determine exactly how severe the charges are that you are facing.
In Rhode Island, the penalties for boating under the influence can be extremely severe. Every person who operates a boat under the influence with a blood alcohol content in excess of 0.10 or whose blood alcohol content is unknown will, if convicted, but guilty of a misdemeanor. The Court will impose a mandatory fine, community service, and potentially a prison sentence of up to one year.
Cases in which another party is injured are treated much more harshly as felony criminal offenses. If another party is killed or sustains serious bodily injury, an individual convicted of driving under the influence will face a mandatory minimum jail sentence of three to five years and a mandatory fine of $1,000 to $5,000.
Most individuals arrested and charged with boating under the influence will be face misdemeanor criminal charges. However, an individual who is arrested and charged with boating under the influence who submits to a chemical test with breath test readings between 0.08 and 0.10 will only face a civil “violation” which is not a criminal offense. For a first offense violation, the accused would be subject to a fine of $100 to $250 fine, 10 to 60 hours of public community service, a Department of Environmental Management approved boating safety course, and have his or her right to operate a watercraft suspended for up to 45 days.
For those who are arrested and charged with boating under the influence with breath test results between 0.10 and 0.15 or those charged with boating under the influence after refusing to submit to a chemical test, they will be facing a misdemeanor criminal offense prosecuted in the Rhode Island District Court. A first offense BUI charge in Rhode Island can carry a fine of $100 to $300, 10 to 60 hours of community service, a Department of Environmental Management approved boating safety course, up to one year in state prison, and suspension of your right to operate a watercraft for three to six months.
For more information on Rhode Island Boating Under the Influence charges and the potential penalties you may face, contact Attorney Matthew Marin for experienced legal counsel and representation.