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Boating while intoxicated is a criminal offense

When you're out on the lake with family and friends, the last thing you think about is the danger of drinking and driving your boat. You have a pontoon that doesn't go very fast, and since the boat is a platform, you don't see much danger in having a few drinks.

Unfortunately, boating under the influence can lead to serious injuries and death. If you lose control of the boat, hit another person, hit the shore or have another kind of accident, you and the people on board could be seriously injured.

Like with driving a motor vehicle on land, driving your boat while intoxicated can get you into trouble with the law. Law enforcement has the right to pull you over while you're driving a boat in the same way that it's legal for law enforcement to pull you over in your vehicle if you show signs of intoxication. There may also be checkpoints on the waterways, which are places where you'd need to stop and talk to the enforcement officials. If you fail a Breathalyzer test there, you could be arrested.

How could you defend yourself? There are many ways, including questioning the legitimacy of the Breathalyzer test and showing that you were not drinking. In some cases, you may be able to prove that you did not know you were intoxicated or suffered from another problem that led to becoming intoxicated faster than expected.

If you receive a conviction for boating under the influence, you could lose your boating license. You may also be able to defend yourself, though, which is why it's a good idea to talk to your attorney before you go to court.

Source: FindLaw, "Boating Under the Influence (BUI) FAQs," accessed June 26, 2017

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