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Boating Under the Influence Laws Enhanced

alcohol-beer-197x300Most of the criminal justice bills that are either signed into law by the Governor or otherwise pass the General Assembly become law on October 1 each year.  The exceptions are major policy changes such as the legalization of marijuana, which typically are planned farther in advance.  Marijuana legalization stole all the headlines on July 1, but there were still a fair number of laws that went into effect last week.  One such law was a provision of the Natural Resources article, which adds enhanced punishments for boating under the influence (BUI) and in some cases for driving under the influence or driving while impaired.  The new law focuses on repeat offenders, but not in the traditional sense, as it aims to enhance the punishment for boating offenders with a record of drunk driving and driving offenders with a history of boating under the influence.

The State Boat Act already has provisions that punish repeat offenders; a first offense for boating under the influence carries up to 1 year in jail, while a second offense carries up to 2 years.  A third or subsequent conviction for BUI carries up 3 years in prison.  Boating while impaired, which is a lesser offense than boating under the influence carries a 60-day maximum sentence for a first conviction, and a 1-year maximum for a second or subsequent.  These penalties are similar to the drunk driving laws in transportation article 21-902.  The new Natural Resources Law will now count a defendant’s DUI or DWI convictions as prior offenses in impaired boating cases.  This means that a person with a prior drunk driving conviction could face up to 2 years in prison for a first boating under the influence charge.  The new law also allows the State to consider prior boating convictions under the State Boat Law when recommending a sentence for a DUI or DWI case.  Subsequent offender enhanced penalties for boating under the influence only apply if a defendant was convicted of the prior offense within the last 5 years, and probation before judgment (PBJ) does not count as a conviction.  Also, in order for the enhanced penalties to apply the State must provide notice to the defendant at least 30 days prior to trial of its intent to seek subsequent offender enhancements.

Natural resources offenses such as boating under the influence can lead to serious consequences including a permanent criminal conviction, jail time and the loss of one’s privilege to operate a vessel in Maryland.  Many boating offenses have extremely harsh consequences compared to similar traffic violations.  For example, a second offense for speeding on a state waterway can carry up to 30 days in jail.  Boating offenses involving alcohol or drugs are taken extremely seriously by the State and by judges, which makes it all the more important to retain an experienced lawyer before you go to court.  If you have been charged with BUI or any violation of the State Boat Act contact Maryland criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime at 410-207-2598.  Benjamin has successfully defended over 500 DUI, BUI and DWI charges and has the experience and dedication to fight for the best outcome in your case.  Benjamin has locations in Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City, and accepts cases in all jurisdictions in Maryland.  He has won DUI trials in Worcester County, which has the highest conviction rate in the state, as well as numerous other counties and is standing by to fight for you.  Benjamin is also an experienced federal DUI lawyer for those who have received citations on 295, Fort Meade and the various other parkways and military/federal installations in Maryland.  He represents adults and juveniles in all drug and alcohol violations including open container and public consumption citations, and also specializes in representing out of state defendants who are traveling through Maryland when stopped.


House Bill 483,

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