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Intoxicated Boating in Ohio

Did you know that just like driving, operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly prohibited in Ohio? To comply with the law, it’s important to have a designated driver when you hit the lake or river.

According to Chapter 1547.11 of the Ohio Code, individuals are not allowed to operate or be in control of watercraft if their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or above, or if they are under the influence of drugs of abuse, alcohol, or a combination of the two. For individuals under the age of 21, the maximum BAC limit is 0.02 percent.

The term “drugs of abuse” includes medications that can impair reflexes or judgment, such as dangerous drugs, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, prescription drugs, and controlled substances. LSD, meth, heroin, marijuana, cocaine, and opioid painkillers fall under the category of dangerous drugs.

It’s important to be aware that OTC medicines like allergy medications, cold and cough medicine, and sleep aids can also slow down reflexes and judgment. Remember, alcohol can intensify the effects of these medicines. Even a couple of beers after taking an antihistamine can leave you too intoxicated to safely operate a boat.

Stay informed and make responsible choices to ensure safety on the water.

When Can My Boat Be Stopped?

The rules for stopping a boat differ from those for stopping a car. While cops need reasonable suspicion to pull you over in your car, the Coast Guard is authorized to stop you anytime, with or without suspicion, and without needing a warrant. Their purpose can be to inspect your safety equipment or check for signs of alcohol consumption in the operator. Additionally, local city police officers, county sheriffs, and state troopers are allowed to stop you on the water if they suspect a safety violation or an intoxicated operator.

Passengers on a boat are allowed to consume alcohol as they please, but the operator must remain completely sober at all times.

Definition of “Boat’s Operator” 

It can be challenging to identify the operator of a boat compared to a car. When multiple individuals are familiar with boat handling, they may take turns or leave the vessel unattended while swimming in the middle of a lake or river. In such instances, the Coast Guard or other authorities will either deem the boat owner responsible and assess their sobriety, or conduct sobriety tests on all individuals present.

What Are the Penalties for Drunk Boating in Ohio?

For a first offense of boating while intoxicated, the drunken operator may receive a fine ranging from $150 to $1,000 and a jail sentence of 3 days to 6 months. The fine for a second offense is the same, while the jail time increases to 10 days to 6 months. A third offense may result in a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail sentence of 30 days to 1 year.

Similar to Ohio’s implied consent law for car and truck drivers, boat operators also give consent to chemical testing by operating the vessel. It’s important to note that refusal to submit to the test results in a one-year loss of the ability to operate or register a watercraft.

In Ohio, boating licenses are only issued for commercial use of the boat, such as pleasure cruises or fishing. If you are using the boat for recreational purposes, whether it’s your own or borrowed, you don’t need a license and it cannot be revoked.

It’s crucial to remember that a boating while intoxicated conviction does not affect your driver’s license for your car or truck.

If you’re facing a boating while intoxicated charge, it’s highly recommended to hire an attorney for assistance. St. Clairsville Criminal Lawyer Group specializes in St. Clairsville OVI lawyers and is available 24/7 to support you. Contact them at (330) 992-3036 for help.

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