We represent those charged with Boating While Impaired
One of the best pastimes during a hot, North Carolina summer is spending some quality time out on our lakes, waterways, and beaches. A lot of these fun summer events involve boating and other water sports. As we all know, many times alcohol plays a role in these activities. Under North Carolina law, operating a vessel such as a boat under the influence of an impairing substance with a BAC of .08 or more is illegal.
North Carolina General Statue § 75A-10 says the following about Boating While Impaired in the relevant section:
§ 75A‑10 Operating vessel or manipulating water skis, etc., in reckless manner; operating, etc., while intoxicated, etc.; depositing or discharging litter, etc.
(b1) No person shall operate any vessel while underway on the waters of this State:
(1) While under the influence of an impairing substance, or
(2) After having consumed sufficient alcohol that the person has, at any relevant time after the boating, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
BWI is similar to DWI in many ways, but having an attorney that understands the differences between the two is crucial. Unlike DWI, an officer (usually Wildlife Enforcement) can stop your boat for almost any reason at all. There doesn’t have to be a reasonable, articulable suspicion for them to pull up to your boat and in many cases board your vessel. The Wildlife Officer has only to ask to see if you are carrying the proper safety equipment (fire extinguishers, life jackets, etc.) in order to gain access.
Once this access is granted, many times the odor alone will be sufficient to allow the officer to inquire about whether or not you are impaired. At this stage, having the right attorney makes all of the difference. Some attorneys mistakenly treat this as just a DWI on a boat; this can lead to a poor defense. An experienced BWI Attorney will know the differences between the NHTSA Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and the additional tests that many officers use when investigating Boating While Impaired offenses.
Boating While Impaired is a Class 2 Misdemeanor and will not currently affect your motor vehicle driver’s license. However, a conviction for Boating While Impaired in North Carolina is still a serious offense. Hiring the right North Carolina Boating While Impaired Attorney is a huge decision that should not be made lightly. At LAWSMITH, The Law Offices of J. Scott Smith, PLLC, our firm has handled many cases of Boating While Impaired in North Carolina and can use our trial experience to defend you.