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Boating under the influence can have serious consequences

Ask perhaps anyone if driving while under the influence of alcohol is allowed, and most people would say "no." However, boating under the influence might be less clear. Many people in Louisiana enjoy going out on the water and enjoying a few beverages, but not everyone is aware of the potential legal implications of doing so.

Similar to traffic stops, law enforcement officials may stop boats to ensure that the operator and everyone on board is safe and following state and federal laws. Other watercraft -- including jet skis -- may also be stopped. An officer does not necessarily need to suspect drunken boating when making a stop, as officials enforce many different rules and regulations on the water.

If an officer suspects that the boat's operator might be under the influence of alcohol, he or she may request that the individual submit to testing. Like most other states, Louisiana sets its legal, blood-alcohol content at .08 percent, the same as its drunk driving limit. If a boat operator's BAC is at or above the legal limit - - or in some cases even if testing is refused - - he or she may be arrested for a BUI.

Boating under the influence is no less serious than other crimes, and may result in jail time, community service and hefty fines. In Louisiana, a BWI conviction can also require the installation of an ignition interlock on the convicted individual's motor vehicle. These types of cases can move swiftly, which makes early action a good idea for most defendants. With the careful guidance of an experienced counsel, most people can minimize the impact of BWI charges and move forward with their lives.

Source: FindLaw, "Boating Under the Influence Basics", Accessed on Nov. 6, 2017

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