The greater D.C./Virginia metropolitan area is home to beautiful scenery, much of which includes rivers, lakes, and the Chesapeake Bay – where people enjoy boating on the weekends and holidays. Sometimes, boating with family and friends can include alcoholic beverages.
If you are out boating and have an alcoholic beverage, you should keep in mind that boating under the influence is illegal in the Virginia/D.C. Metro area. For example, in Fairfax County, the Marine Patrol Unit patrols the waterways and will enforce the law. The consequences of a conviction can be serious, so even though it may sound strange to be arrested for a boating DUI offense in D.C. and even in Virginia, you need to be aware that it can happen. The offense is similar to DUI/DWI offenses in both jurisdictions.
At S.L. England, PLLC, our DUI legal defense team is experienced and skilled. We work hard to get the best result for you in your unique situation. Much of a good boating DUI defense strategy is how it is delivered, and we deliver. We strategize. We negotiate. We challenge. And we defend. Contact our office if you have been arrested for a boating under the influence offense in D.C. or Virginia.
What is a boating under the influence offense in the D.C./Virginia metro area?
In Washington, D.C., boating under the influence is an offense according to D.C. Code 50-2206.31. According to this code,
No person shall operate or be in physical control of any watercraft in the District:
(1) While the person is intoxicated; or
(2) While the person is under the influence of alcohol or any drug or any combination thereof.
Likewise, the Virginia Code § 29.1-738 also criminalizes boating under the influence. Section 29.1-738(B) states:
No person shall operate any watercraft, as defined in § 29.1-733.2, or motorboat which is underway (i) while such person has a blood alcohol concentration at or greater than the blood alcohol concentration at which it is unlawful to drive or operate a motor vehicle as provided in § 18.2-266 as indicated by a chemical test administered in accordance with § 29.1-738.2, (ii) while such person is under the influence of alcohol, (iii) while such person is under the influence of any narcotic drug or any other self-administered intoxicant or drug of whatsoever nature, or any combination of such drugs, to a degree which impairs his ability to operate the watercraft or motorboat safely, (iv) while such person is under the combined influence of alcohol and any drug or drugs to a degree which impairs his ability to operate the watercraft or motorboat safely, or (v) while such person has a blood concentration of any of the following substances at a level that is equal to or greater than (a) 0.02 milligrams of cocaine per liter of blood, (b) 0.1 milligrams of methamphetamine per liter of blood, (c) 0.01 milligrams of phencyclidine per liter of blood, or (d) 0.1 milligrams of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine per liter of blood.
What are the penalties for a conviction of a boating DUI in D.C. and Virginia?
The penalties for a boating DUI in Washington, D.C. are set out in D.C. Code 50-2206.32:
- a conviction for a first offense can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and/or incarceration of up to 180 days.
- a conviction for a second offense can result in a fine between $2,500 and $5,000 and/or incarceration of up to one year.
- a conviction for a third or subsequent offense can result in a fine between $2,500 and $10,000 and/or incarceration of up to one year.
In Virginia, the offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor, and this means – if convicted – you could face up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, and loss of your operator's license.
Can a boating DUI charge be challenged in D.C. and Virginia courts?
A boating DUI charge can be challenged. Like DUIs generally, the results of field sobriety and chemical tests and the administration of these tests are often flawed or mishandled. It is the State's burden to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And it is our job to create that doubt by challenged the evidence and prosecutor's arguments each step of the way.
Experienced Boating DUI Defense Attorney in the D.C./Virginia Metro Area
If you have been charged with a boating DUI in Washington, D.C. or Virginia, our criminal defense team is ready to help you. Contact S.L. England, trusted DUI defense attorney, to get started your case today.