Intoxicated Boating in Ohio

In Ohio, operating a boat while under the influence is prohibited, similar to driving drunk. It’s crucial to have a designated driver when going boating, as a good St. Clairsville OVI lawyer would advise.

In Chapter 1547.11 of the Ohio Code, intoxicated boating is discussed. It states that no person can operate or be in control of watercraft, such as boats, aquaplanes, water skis, or similar devices, if their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher, or if they are under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both.

For individuals under the age of 21, the BAC limit drops to 0.02 percent.

The law defines drugs of abuse as medications that can impair reflexes or judgment. This includes dangerous drugs, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, prescription drugs, and controlled substances.

Dangerous drugs encompass substances like LSD, meth, heroin, marijuana, cocaine, and opioid painkillers, along with other prescription drugs.

OTC medicines that can affect reflexes or judgment include allergy medications, cold and cough medicine, and sleep aids. Remember, alcohol can intensify the effects of OTC medicines. Consuming a few beers after taking an antihistamine can render you too intoxicated to operate a boat.

When Can My Boat Be Stopped?

Unlike stopping a car, where reasonable suspicion is needed, the Coast Guard has the authority to stop your boat at any time, without requiring a warrant or suspicion. They can inspect your safety equipment and, if they suspect alcohol consumption, check if the operator is intoxicated. Additionally, local police officers, county sheriffs, and state troopers can stop you on the water if they suspect a safety violation or an intoxicated operator.

While passengers are allowed to consume alcohol freely, the operator of the boat must always remain completely sober.

Definition of “Boat’s Operator”

While it is evident who is driving a car, identifying the boat’s operator may be less straightforward. In scenarios where multiple individuals have the knowledge to operate the vessel, they may take turns at the helm. Alternatively, they might anchor in the middle of a lake or river, prompting everyone to jump in for a swim, temporarily leaving the boat unmanned. In such cases, the Coast Guard or other law enforcement personnel may designate the boat owner as the responsible party and subject them to sobriety testing, or they may test all individuals present.

Penalties for Operating a Boat While Intoxicated in Ohio

A first offense of boating while intoxicated carries a fine ranging from $150 to $1,000 and a potential jail sentence of 3 days to 6 months. The fine for a second offense is the same, but the jail time increases to 10 days to 6 months. As for a third offense, the operator faces a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail term ranging from 30 days to 1 year.

Similar to Ohio’s implied consent law for car and truck drivers, boat operators implicitly consent to chemical testing simply by operating the vessel. Refusal to submit to testing results in the suspension of the individual’s ability to operate or register a watercraft for a period of 1 year.

It is worth noting that the sole boating licenses in Ohio are those issued for commercial use, such as pleasure cruises or fishing. If the boat is purely for recreational purposes, whether it is your own or one borrowed, you do not require a license, and thus it cannot be revoked.

Importantly, a boating while intoxicated conviction will not impact an individual’s driver’s license for their car or truck.

If you find yourself facing a charge of boating while intoxicated, consider easing the process by seeking the assistance of an attorney. St. Clairsville Criminal Lawyer Group possesses a deep understanding of criminal law and is available 24/7 to provide guidance. Contact them at (330) 992-3036.

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