Arizona’s Boating DUI Laws

boats in Lake Havasu City, AZ

Each summer thousands of boaters take to the local waters for some much-needed relief from the scorching Arizona temperatures. Before you take to the lakes in your watercraft this summer, there are a few things you should know about Arizona’s boating DUI laws.

Arizona’s Boating DUI Law

First and foremost, it is illegal to operate a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Arizona. Arizona revised statute A.R.S. §5-395 states that;

“It is unlawful for any person to operate or be in actual physical control of a motorized watercraft that is underway within this state under any of the following circumstances:

1. While under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs, or vapor releasing substances if the person is impaired to the slightest degree.

2. If the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of operating or being in actual physical control of the motorized watercraft and the alcohol concentration results from alcohol consumed either before or while operating or being in actual physical control of the motorized watercraft.

3. While there is any drug as defined in section 13-3401 or its metabolite in the person’s body.

4. If the motorized watercraft is a commercial motorized watercraft and the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more.”

Arizona OUI Penalties

While it’s not illegal to have alcohol onboard a boat or personal watercraft, or for the passengers of your boat to enjoy responsibly, it is illegal for anyone operating the watercraft to consume before or during the boat outing. An Operation Under the Influence (OUI) is a Class 1 Misdemeanor in Arizona (similar to a DUI) which can carry penalties including jail time and thousands of dollars in fines.

Sobriety Testing

Furthermore, sobriety tests performed on the water can be unfair to the operator. Slippery surfaces combined with the motion of the water can make it difficult to assess a person’s physical capacities. Additionally, officers do not have the right to stop your boat without what’s known as a reasonable suspicion to stop. Because of these and a number of other factors, it’s not uncommon for a boater to be cited with an unwarranted OUI.

Boat Responsibly

If you’re planning on boating on one of Arizona’s many beautiful lakes this summer, please do so responsibly. A blood alcohol level of .08 is roughly the equivalent of having two drinks in your system at the time of the arrest. Combine that with the effects of the sun, heat, and water and many boaters might not even recognize that they’ve approached the legal limit. Be sure to know your limits and your rights.

If you’re charged with an OUI, make sure you call an experienced DUI attorney who can help ensure your rights to a fair trial. The attorney team at The Nolan Law Firm is your DUI and OUI defense specialists.

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