What Are the Rules for Drinking on a Boat in Colorado?

Boating can be a great way to relax and catch up with friends and Colorado has amazing lakes to explore. Having a few drinks while on the lake may not seem like a bad idea, however if you’re not careful, you and your friends could end up in trouble with the law. Many people incorrectly assume that drinking while on a boat is safer than while driving a car but in many ways it can be just as dangerous. While an initial collision may not carry the same potential for injury, drowning after an impact is a very real possibility. Below is information to help you stay safe and on the right side of the law while out on the water.

What Are the Rules for Drinking on a Boat in Colorado?

While it is not illegal to have alcohol on a boat, driving or boating under the influence (BUI) is prohibited. Colorado takes these offenses extremely seriously and a conviction for BUI is punishable by up to a year in prison, suspension of boating privileges, up to $1000 in fines, and community service. There have been recent changes to the law and the legal limit for a boat operators blood alcohol content (BAC) was lowered in 2008 by the state legislature from .10% to .08%.

Although a BUI charge is so named for “boating” while intoxicated, before you and your friends get out a Jet Ski or canoe, know that it is not just boats that you are restricted from operating while under the influence. While this was not always the case, under current Colorado BUI laws, any vessel or watercraft which is physically controlled by a person under the influence of alcohol can result in BUI charges. For example, if you are operating a non-motorized canoe with a BAC of .12%, you can be hit with a charge for boating under the influence.

BUI laws are commonly compared to charges for driving under the influence (DUI), and while the offenses have similarities, they are far from identical. In Colorado, unlike other parts of the country, boats are not included in the state definition of a motor vehicle. This means that charges for BUI are (1) not handled by the DMV and (2) are not influenced by DUI charges. Similarly, the points accumulated on your license will not be affected by potential charges for BUI. If you would like more information on, check out our article on 5 tips to avoid a BUI.

Hard-Hitting BUI Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with boating under the influence in Colorado, protecting your freedom begins with contacting Attorney Chris Cessna. No matter how severe the charges, you still have rights and our criminal defense attorney knows how to defend them. With more than a decade of legal experience, attorney Cessna can work to see that the charges against you are dropped completely or are reduced. The sooner you contact our offices, the soon we can help.

Call (303) 720-7280 and schedule a free consultation and discover your legal options.