Drunk Boating (BUI) in Michigan: Unsafe Waters?

Despite some current summer-like temperatures the summer has ended, and the boats are being winterized and stored for the year. This is also the time some of the numbers for this past seasons boating under the influence statistics come out.

Michigan is clearly a boating destination for locals and vacationers, and many of our wonderful waterways are ‘loaded’ every weekend.

Although every state has lowered the illegal limit to .08 for operating motor vehicles – mostly based upon a conditioned agreement to receive federal highway funding – boating still remains .10 (as do ORV and Snowmobile statutes).  Frankly, not as much attention or concern was focused on boating and alcohol.  For example, literally drinking while driving a boat and drinking on a boat are commonly accepted. However, that belief may be changing although the law remains the same

This past summer efforts were quietly stepped up across Michigan, including for the Big Lake, and many inland lakes like Higgins and Houghton Lake, Mullatt, Burt, Charlevoix, Walloon and Torch Lake.  In fact, the number of BUI’s on Torch Lake increased almost 900%. Yes, almost 9 times as many ‘arrests’ this year as last year.

There are many differences in representing someone involved in a BUI vs a DUI, and its important that your representation – should you unfortunately find yourself in this situation – fully understand this scientifically and legally complex area of law.

We handle a great number of BUI cases every year, and one recent case was DISMISSED. Luckily for our out-of-state client, he talked to us after speaking with an attorney who told him “just plead guilty, the penalties are nothing”.  Now, client does not have any penalties, no misdemeanor record, and no alcohol offense on his record that has a myriad of potential direct and collateral consequences.

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