SC BUI Defense - Who was operating the boat?

In order to be convicted of boating under the influence in South Carolina two things must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in Court.

First - the State must prove that the defendant was in operation of the boat.

Second - the State must prove that the defendant was materially and appreciably impaired.

This article focuses on the requirement that the State prove operation.

South Carolina BUI Law is codified in S.C. Code § 50-21-112. It makes it illegal to operate any type of watercraft while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. This includes jet skis, pontoons, fishing boats and sail boats.

Just like in a DUI Arrest the State must prove that the person they arrested was the actual operator of the boat. There is not law against being onboard a boat while you are impaired - you just cannot be the operator.

Anyone who has spent any significant time on Lake Murray or Lake Greenwood will know that law enforcement routinely pulls boats over after dark. This includes DNR, the Sheriff's Department and the Coast Guard. Although the reason for the stops given are safety equipment checks - they are screening all operators for a boating under the influence charge.

If you were arrested at night for BUI you need to consider what evidence law enforcement has that you were actually the operator. At night it is impossible to see at any significant distance on the lake. If your boat is a center console type, or if no one was sitting at the counsel by the time law enforcement pulled alongside this may become an issue at trial.

If you are looking for a Columbia Criminal Defense Attorney consider the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC for your case. Initial appointments are provided on a confidential and no cost basis by calling our 24/hr new case line at 1-888-301-6004.

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