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Even though summer has come to a close, you may have a few reminders that will stay with you through the autumn. Such as your tan… or a boating under the influence charge.

No one wants to have to deal with a charge like boating under the influence. Worse, you may not even understand what your BUI charge can mean for your life going forward.

In this time of uncertainty, an experienced Colorado attorney can help you understand the charges against you and the penalties you face that can impact your life – both on and off the water.

Read on to find out all you need to know bout BUIs and drinking on a boat in Colorado.

Boating Laws in Colorado

In our state, you may have alcohol on a boat, but being under the influence of alcohol while driving a boat is against the law. You cannot operate a vessel on the water with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher. Doing so breaks the law and puts you in legal jeopardy.

Please note that these laws extend to any type of vessel on the water physically controlled by someone. Operating a boat, a Jet Ski, or even a canoe with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit can get you charged with a BUI.

BUI and DUI charges have similarities, but they are not identical. Boats aren’t in the definition of a DUI in Colorado. That means that if you get a BUI in Colorado, these charges are not connected to the Department of Motor Vehicles or influenced by any previous charges you may have had for a DUI. Also, you don’t accumulate points on your driver’s license for a BUI as you do a DUI.

The Penalties for a BUI in Colorado

Even though a BUI is not on par legally with a DUI in Colorado, that doesn’t mean the potential penalties you can face aren’t an issue.

The penalties for first-time BUI charges can include:

  • Incarceration – anywhere from five days to 12 months
  • Alcohol abuse education classes or treatment programs
  • Fines of as much as $1,000 on top of court fees
  • Up to 96 hours of community service
  • Two years of probation
  • The revocation of your ability to operate a watercraft for three months

It’s vital to understand that if you are the boat owner, you can get into legal trouble even if you were not the one driving under the influence. Owning a watercraft that you allow an intoxicated person to operate can result in incarceration for up to 12 months and as fines of as much as $1,000.

The Penalties for a BUI in Colorado

Additionally, when you operate a water vessel in Colorado, you are giving “implied consent” to breath or blood alcohol tests when an officer pulls you over. You cannot refuse these tests without opening yourself up to additional charges.

That’s why one of the first things you should do after getting hit with a BUI charge is to contact an experienced Colorado attorney. They can help you navigate the charges and ensure your best interests are represented.


About the Author:

Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019-2022” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2022 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state.  Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020-2022. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.


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