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12 States Enact New Boating Laws, 5 About BUI


Several states have enacted stricter laws against boating while intoxicated, according to a roundup of new legal initiatives compiled by the maritime the Lochner Law Firm of Annapolis.

Georgia just enacted a law lowering the Boating Under the Influence (BUI) legal limit from .10 percent to .08 percent BAC. The new law also requires boating safety education courses for all operators born after January 1, 1998, and requires PFD’s to be worn by all children under age 13. (Ga. Code 52-7-12).

Hawaii now requires all resident boat operators to complete a boating safety education course. Additionally, children under age 16 may not operate a vessel unless accompanied by an adult over 21. (Haw. Code R. § 13-244-15.5).

Illinois now requires boat owners to clean their vessel’s bottom before trailering from one body of water to another, in order to curtail invasive species. (IL ST CH 625 § 45/5-23).

Indiana now imposes harsher penalties for BUI offenses if the operator is involved in an accident – up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. (Ind. Code § 7.1-1-3-13.5).

Iowa lowered its BUI legal limit from .10percent to .08 percent BAC. (Iowa Code § 321J.2).

Kansas- Passed a constitutional amendment to allow their state legislature to tax boats differently than other personal property; the amendment was needed to empower the legislature to impose lower tax rates on boats. (HCR 5017 (2012)).

Maryland enacted a vessel excise tax cap of $15,000. The state also closed a “drunken sailor” loophole which exempted nonmotorized sailboats from state BUI laws. (Md. Code, Nat. Res. § 8-716).

New York enacted legislation requiring those convicted of a BUI to get a boating safety certificate before operating a vessel again. Suffolk County now requires any boat operators in Suffolk waters to take a boating safety course. New York is currently considering a law that would tie DUI and BUI violations together, such that any boater convicted of BUI would have their driver’s license suspended, and vice versa. (N.Y. Nav. Law § 49-a).

Oklahoma lowered its BUI legal limit from .10 percent to .08 percent BAC. (Okla. Stat. tit. 63, § 4210.8).

Pennsylvania now requires all passengers on vessels under 16 ft to wear life jackets during cold weather months (November 1 through April 30). (58 Pa. Code § 97.1).

Texas now requires all boat operators born after September 1, 1993, to obtain a boating safety education certificate and to carry it with them when operating a vessel. (Tex. Parks & Wild. Code § 31.109).

Virginia just became the first state to pass the Uniform Certificate of Titles for Vessels Act (UCOTVA). The Act was written and promulgated by the Uniform Law Commission in 2011. Besides improving and homogenizing current state title laws, the Act requires “title branding” of vessels that have suffered hull damage – marking the damage directly on the title. Additionally, if the Coast Guard approves the UCOTVA titling procedures (as it is expected to), vessels titled in UCOTVA states will be able to secure Preferred Ship Mortgages without having to federally document their vessels.

For more information about boating law visit, operated by Lochner Law Firm of Annapolis, Maryland.