Trusted And Experienced
Maryland Client Advocates Since 1950

What Maryland boaters should know about changes in BUI, DUI laws

One of the many advantages of being a Marylander is having fairly easy access to some beautiful waterfront and boating areas.

Yet, as you likely know if you spend time out on the water, boating under the influence (BUI) can be every bit as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. It’s also just as illegal. However, until late last year, convictions for DUI and BUI convictions were counted separately when it came to considering someone a repeat offender and, therefore, imposing harsher penalties.

What does the law say now?

Under a new law, which took effect this past October, “certain previous convictions for drunk or drugged operation of a vehicle or vessel and grossly negligent manslaughter by vehicle or vessel…constitute prior convictions for the purpose of determining certain enhanced subsequent offender penalties.” For example, even a second offense can result in a multi-year sentence and thousands of dollars in fines.

For example, say someone pled guilty to BUI and then was later convicted for a first-time DUI. That DUI actually counts as a second offense – just as if it were their second DUI conviction. The penalties would be in line with those of any repeat DUI or BUI offender. The new law also increases penalties for offenses involving manslaughter or homicide by vehicle or vessel. These penalties typically involve incarceration as well as fines.

Of course, you should never take any first-time DUI or BUI offense lightly. First-time offenses can result in serious consequences – and you can’t become a repeat offender automatically if you’re later cited for an alternative BUI or DUI offense. Seeking legal guidance as soon as possible will help you work towards the best possible outcome for your case.