Columbia Boating Under the Influence Lawyer

The Columbia criminal defense lawyers of Shealey Law Firm represent people facing BUI charges. Our law firm helps people arrested for boating under the influence. We are taking new cases now. Contact us to see how our aggressive and professional lawyers can represent you in a BUI defense case.

South Carolina BUI Lawyers

If you are facing boating under the influence charges, you should know that simply being charged does not mean you are convicted. You have a right to present a defense, call witnesses and testify on your own behalf.

Our experienced team can evaluate the law enforcement investigation and evidence against you, creating a legal strategy for your defense.

South Carolina Boating Under the Influence Laws

S.C. Code § 50-21-112 is the South Carolina boating under the influence law. Drinking on a boat by itself is not illegal. It is against the law to operate a boat while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

To be guilty of BUI, a person must:

  • Operate
  • A motorized water device or a device under sail
  • Under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of impairing substances
  • To the extent that the person’s faculties are materially and appreciably impaired

To be guilty of boating under the influence, all the elements must be true. If the state cannot prove even one of the elements, the person is not guilty of the offense.

Penalties for Boating Under the Influence in South Carolina

First offense

  • 48 hours to 30 days in jail
  • $200 fine
  • 6 month suspension of boat operating privileges

The court may order community service instead of jail. The person must be allowed to perform their community service at a time that doesn’t interfere with their regular employment. The court may not force the person to do community service instead of jail.

Second offense

  • 48 hours to 1 year in jail, the person may serve 10 days community service instead of jail
  • $2,000-$5,000 fine, court may not suspend to less than $1,000
  • 1 year suspension of boat operating privileges

The offender may perform community service in their county of residence.

Third offense

  • 60 days to 3 years in jail
  • $3,500-$6,000 fine
  • 2 year suspension of boat operating privileges

For suspension of boat operating privileges, only violations within 10 years of the current offense count. The person must complete a certified Alcohol and Drug Safety Action program, a substance abuse assessment and recommended treatment before reinstatement of their boat operating privileges.

BUI causing great bodily injury – S.C. Code § 50-21-113

  • $5,000-$10,000 fine
  • 30 days to 15 years in jail
  • 3 year suspension of boat operating privileges

Great bodily injury is an injury that poses a substantial risk of death or serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss of impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

BUI causing death – S.C. Code § 50-21-113

  • $20,000-$25,000 fine
  • 1-25 years jail
  • 3 year suspension of boat operating privileges

The court may not suspend the mandatory minimum sentence.

FAQs About Boating Under the Influence in South Carolina

What happens if you get a BUI in SC?

If you get a BUI in SC, a criminal conviction goes on your record. Penalties may include jail time, community service, fines and restitution. Your privilege to operate a boat is suspended, and you must undergo an assessment and treatment program prior to reinstatement. You have the right to a hearing and the right to contest the charges against you.

Can you drink and operate a boat in SC?

In South Carolina, it is lawful to drink alcohol while operating a boat. However, it is against the law to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Is there a legal limit for boating under the influence of alcohol in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, if the person operating the boat has a bodily alcohol content of .08 or higher, there is an inference that the person is under the influence of alcohol. However, there is no exact legal limit, and the person may admit other evidence that may be relevant to determining whether they were under the influence while boating.

Does South Carolina have implied consent for boating under the influence?

Yes. S.C. Code § 50-21-114 says that if the police suspect you of boating under the influence, you consent to a blood, breath or urine test administered by a certified person or qualified medical professional. The police must provide reasonable assistance to a defendant wishing to conduct additional testing.

Talk to a Lawyer and Fight Boating Under the Influence Charges

Shealey Law Firm is a team of legal professionals that you can trust. Criminal charges can be devastating, but our knowledgeable team can represent you.

If you need a boating under the influence lawyer in Columbia, we invite you to contact us. You are innocent until proven guilty. Our team can help you build and present your defenses, look for errors in the case against you and prepare a comprehensive plan to address the charges.

Call or message us now to begin.


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