It’s the season for fun in the sun, and people in Kentucky often spend summer weekends on the lake. The Bryant Law Center wants you to have a great time on the water this summer by staying safe and understanding how to avoid boating under the influence.

Kentucky law prohibits anyone from driving or operating a boat while intoxicated or under the influence of any substance causing impairment to an individual’s driving ability. A person is considered intoxicated if their blood alcohol level is 0.08% or higher, just like if driving a motor vehicle. Officers will also give a person a BUI if the individual appears to be too intoxicated to operate a boat safely, or any concentration of certain controlled substances, including cocaine and methamphetamine, is found in the person’s body. If found boating under the influence (BUI), you can face a hefty fine and possible jail time.

The following penalties if found guilty of operating a boat under the influence:

  • First conviction: subject to a fine of $200 to $250
  • Second conviction: fine of $250 to $500
  • Third or more conviction: fine of $600 to $1,000, or imprisonment for at least 30 days, or both a fine and jail time

Alcohol and drugs cause lack of balance, blurry vision, poor coordination, impaired judgment, and slow reaction times that can result in boating accidents and fatalities. Kentucky law also prohibits anyone from being intoxicated or under the influence while using any watercraft including water skis or a surfboard. Also, it is illegal to drink in public places including Kentucky waterways. If caught drinking and operating a boat and stopped by law enforcement, you must legally allow the officers to test your blood alcohol level. By driving on Kentucky waters, you are consenting this. If you refuse to be tested, you will be arrested and punished under the law.

If found guilty of a BUI, you will likely have to take a safe-boating course offered by the department of transportation. Once you complete the course, you will receive a certification proving you passed the course that must be presented to the Court. You will also have to pay the department of transportation $100 for the cost of materials and instruction of the course to receive your certificate of completion.