Boating Under The Influence In New York

In New York State, recreational boating is a $2 billion industry that millions of residents and visitors enjoy, especially during the warm summer months. In fact, the state ranks ninth in the country for registered boats with 438,891, according to 2018 Recreational Boating Report by NY State Parks.

However, there were 17 fatal boating accidents in New York last year, resulting in 19 deaths. Additionally, there was also an increase of 108 total accidents compared to 2018.


Alcohol and drug use are considered some of the most common causes of fatal boating accidents in New York. From 2005 to 2018, alcohol and drug use were the main contributing factors in 66 boating deaths, which accounted for 21 percent of all boating fatalities in the state.

Last year alone, alcohol and drugs were involved in 22 fatalities, which is nearly 16 percent of all boating deaths in New York. These substances can negatively affect attention and reaction time, as well as significantly impair judgment.

Boating under the influence (BUI) is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a jail sentence of up to one year and a maximum $1,000 fine. However, if a person is arrested for boating with a BAC level of below .08 percent, he/she could still be charged with boating while ability impaired by alcohol (alcohol-BWAI), which carries a maximum 15-day jail sentence and a fine of up to $500. A conviction for a drug-BWAI results in the same penalties as a BUI.


The following boating safety tips will not only help you avoid arrest but also save lives:

  • Both operators and passengers should not consume alcohol before or while boating
  • If an operator consumes alcohol while the boat is stopped, he/she must wait at least one hour per drink before operating the boat again
  • Understand the New York State boating laws
  • Major holidays such as Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day are the most dangerous times of the year for boating accidents since alcohol consumption is part of the celebration
  • Always be a defensive boat operator by keeping an eye out for hazards, rough waves, and inclement weather conditions
  • Both operators and passengers should always wear life vests

If you have been charged with a BUI in Sodus Point or Lake Ontario in upstate New York, contact King Law today at (585) 270-8882 and let us help you obtain the most favorable results in your case.



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