Alcohol and Boating
INCREASED BUI (Boating Under the Influence) ENFORCEMENT
June 28th - 30th 2013
Do You Know the Facts about Alcohol and Boating?
Alcohol and Boating: A Dangerous Combination
Everyone knows that oil and water do not mix; the same is true for alcohol and boating. With the warm weather boating season fast approaching, many boaters are thinking about getting back out on the waterways and are asking questions about the boating laws and regulations to see if there have been any changes. Not unexpectedly, the number one boating question pertains to equipment and license requirements, but surprisingly, the second most asked question pertains to alcohol use and consumption on Alabama’s waterways.
Just as Alabama law bans anyone from drinking and driving a vehicle (DUI), the law also prohibits anyone from boating under the influence (BUI). Specifically, it is illegal to be in physical control of any vessel (including personal watercraft), water skis, or any similar device if the operator:
Alabama law establishes the following penalties for those arrested and convicted of boating under the influence:
If a person is suspected of operating a vessel on the waters of Alabama under the influence of alcohol or any other controlled substance, he or she must submit to a field breath test or other approved testing device for blood alcohol concentration. Refusal to submit to a field breath test, or other approved testing device, will result in the same punishment as provided in Alabama law for operators of motor vehicles on state highways.
Although the Alabama Marine Police Division encourages all boaters to leave the alcohol at home, boaters who wish to have alcohol on board must consider the fact that Alabama has both wet and dry counties (see map). Boaters should check to see if the waterway where they will be boating is in a wet or dry county.
A person boating on a body of water in a dry county is not permitted to have alcohol on board the vessel. On most bodies of water in wet counties, there is not an open container law and you may have alcohol on board for the passengers, but you should use a designated operator who will not be drinking.
**Keep in mind that some waterways fall within city jurisdictions and may have additional city ordinances pertaining to alcohol use, open containers, and consumption. If you have any questions about a specific waterway, please call the Alabama Marine Police at 334-353-2628.
Alabama Wet and Dry Counties