Beginning on December 1st, there’s a new felony in North Carolina that you should be aware of: boating while impaired. This law, and the increased penalties associated with it, are due to a crackdown on drunk boating. As such, starting on December 1st, you can be convicted of a felony if you were impaired, driving a boat, and you caused serious injury or death.
At the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley, we have defended many individuals charged with DUI and other alcohol-related offenses. We understand the difficulty and anxiety associated with these charges. As one of the leading criminal defense attorneys in Raleigh, we will give your case a comprehensive, strong defense. To speak with attorney Brinkley regarding your case, call our Raleigh office today at (919) 832-0307.
The Boating While Impaired Law in North Carolina
Boating while impaired is not a new law in North Carolina. In the past, boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and with a BAC of 0.08 and above, could result in a misdemeanor. According to G.S. 75A-10(b1), “No person shall operate any vessel while underway on the waters of this State:
- While under the influence of an impairing substance, or
- After having consumed sufficient alcohol that the person has, at any relevant time after the boating, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.”
Additionally, the law bans any individual from “manipulat[ing] any water skis, surfboard, nonmotorized vessel, or similar device on the waters of this State while under the influence of an impairing substance.”
Violating either of these laws can result in a class 2 misdemeanor. The new law, however, expands on the punishments of boating while impaired. Called Sheyenne’s Law, the law is named after 17-year-old Sheyenne Marshall, who was killed on Lake Norman in 2015 by a drunken boater. In addition to Sheyenne, there were also 25 other boating deaths in North Carolina in 2015, and nearly half of them involved alcohol.
Penalties for Boating Under the Influence
If you’re caught driving a boat or using water skis (or other non-motorized vessels) while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be facing a class 2 misdemeanor. In North Carolina, this may involve 1 to 60 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment. An active punishment signifies jail time, and intermediate and community punishments mean that the judge can impose alternate penalties.
The new boating while impaired law, which takes effect on December 1st, alters this penalty structure. Sheyenne’s Law makes it a felony if an impaired boater causes serious injury or death. The specific penalties are as follows:
- If an incident causes great bodily injury, then it may be punishable by a fine of $5,000 to $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison.
- If an incident results in death, then it may be punishable by $10,000 to $25,000 fine and up to 25 years in prison.
Operating a sailboat or a powerboat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, without property damage or serious injury, is still a misdemeanor. For a first offense, the alleged offender could be looking at $200 fine or up to 30 days in jail. For a second offense, the penalties may include $2,000 to $5,000 in fines and up to one year in jail. For a third offense, the penalties may include $3,500 to $6,000 in fines and up to three years in jail.
No matter the charge, even if it was just your first offense, you may also lose your boating privileges. A first offense may restrict your boating privileges by around six months, while a third offense could keep you from driving a boat for up to three years.
Call the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley
Boating while impaired is certainly dangerous, and Sheyenne’s Law is North Carolina’s attempt at making the state’s lakes and rivers increasingly safe. Nonetheless, the law can be complicated, and if you were arrested for boating while impaired, you need to call the most experienced criminal defense lawyer in the Raleigh area. At the Law office of Dewey P. Brinkley, we’ve successful defended many individuals charged with DWIs as well as boating while impaired charges.
For a free, no-obligation consultation with defense attorney Dewey Brinkley, call our Raleigh law firm today at 919-832-0307.