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Boating and drinking laws in South Carolina

Enjoying some time out on the water in South Carolina is a favorite activity for residents and tourists alike. Milder temperatures and plenty of access to water make it a fun way to spend a day with friends and family.

However, amidst all the fun, tragedy can strike. Consuming drugs or alcohol and operating a boat is illegal and rightfully so – it is the leading cause of accidents. Become familiar with the laws and potential consequences of enjoying a few cold ones while out on the water.

Blood alcohol content

Under BUI laws, the court makes a presumption about whether the level of alcohol in a person’s system (BAC) rises to the level of intoxication. A BAC level of .05 or less and the court may presume there was no impairment. A BAC of .08 or higher leads the court to believe the driver was under the influence and unable to operate the vessel. Anything in between those two BAC levels may go either way.

Ramifications of a BUI

If convicted of boating while impaired, the operator faces a variety of consequences depending on the level of impairment and any other previous incidents. With no prior BUI or DUI convictions, a first offense may yield a fine, two days in jail and a six-month suspension of boating privileges. A second offense carries the same jail sentence, but a one-year suspension in boating rights. A third conviction may result in up to three years in jail and a three-year suspension of boating privileges.

Causing damage while under the influence

The punishment for DUI worsens if the operator causes damage to property or a person. Crashing and causing damage to property or minor injuries to a person is a misdemeanor under South Carolina law. An incident that causes serious injuries to another, whether it results in death or not, is a felony.

Boating while under the influence is a serious offense. If you ever find yourself on the wrong end of this type of charge, you may want to consider contacting an attorney for guidance.

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