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Connecticut’s BUI Laws

As of October 1, 2003, a person – who is at least 21 years of age – operating a boat or water vessel in Connecticut while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be criminally charged with boating under the influence (BUI). A conviction for this offense depends on the amount of alcohol in the boat operator’s system or impairment due to alcohol or drug consumption. 

The following are the circumstances that may result in a Connecticut BUI conviction: 

  • Operating a vessel while impaired by alcohol or drugs to “an appreciable degree” 

  • Operating a vessel with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .08 percent 

  • Operating a vessel with a BAC of at least .02 percent, for underage boaters 

A first BUI offense is punishable by boating privilege suspension for one year, fines of up to $1,000, and either a maximum jail sentence of six months or up to 100 hours of community service. A second BUI offense (within a ten-year period) carries a three-year boating privilege suspension, fines of up to $4,000, up to 100 hours of community service, and a maximum jail term of two years.  

A third or subsequent BUI offense (within a ten-year period) is punishable by a lifetime boating privilege suspension, fines of up to $8,000, up to 100 hours of community service, and a maximum jail sentence of three years. Similar to DUI offenders, refusing a post-arrest chemical test (e.g., breath or blood test) can lead to additional penalties. 

However, if a BUI involves “reckless operation,” boaters will face harsher consequences.  

For example, a BUI resulting in a serious injury suffered by another person or over $2,000 in property damage is considered a first-degree reckless operation BUI, which carries boating privilege suspension for at least one year, fines of up to $5,000, and a jail sentence of up to two years. If a BUI offender operates a vessel in a reckless manner that places other people or property in danger, then it is a second-degree reckless operation BUI charge, punishable by boating privilege suspension for at least one year, fines of up to $1,000, and a jail sentence of up to six months. 

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a BUI in Connecticut, let our Hartford legal team at Carlson & Dumeer, LLC defend you against serious criminal charges. Contact us today at (877) 795-5594 for a free initial consultation. 

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