Just like there are laws against driving a car while intoxicated, there are laws against boating while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. The offense is more formally known as a BUI or BWI charge. If a law enforcement official suspects that the person operating the boat is intoxicated, he or she will test the driver using the BAC test. A BWI charge will be imposed if the level of blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent or more. This BAC threshold is applicable in New York and all other states.

Alcohol is a depressant that slows down the human central nervous system. The U.S. Coast Guard warns about the dangers of operating a boat while drunk. They say alcohol may be more hazardous on water than on land.

Penalties of a BWI charge can include large fines, revocation or suspension of a license and jail time. The U.S. Coast Guard has the authority to enforce these laws in order to keep the waters accident-free. If after suitable tests, the Coast Guard decides that the boat operator is not fit to operate the boat, they may decide to terminate the voyage. The operator may be arrested depending on the circumstances. Alternately, the operator may be detained until he or she is sober or may be turned over to local authorities.

If you are a boat owner or a license holder, you should know your rights regarding BWI charges. If you have recently been involved in a BWI case, you might want to consider hiring an attorney for professional guidance.