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Defending BUI Charges Contact Our Firm for Dedicated, Aggressive Defense.

Lexington Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Lawyer

Defending BUI Charges - Contact Our Firm for Dedicated, Aggressive Defense

Boating Under the Influence Law

Over the past several years there have been several high profile boating accidents resulting in fatalities on South Carolina waterways. This has led to a significant increase in the number of boaters arrested and criminally charged for boating under the influence (BUI). This is a serious charge and if convicted you can face a mandatory suspension of your boating privileges, jail sentence, fine and permanent criminal record.

Many experienced boaters are unaware at amount of law enforcement currently patrolling area lakes. Lake Murray for example is patrolled by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, Newberry County Sheriff’s Department, Saluda County Sheriff’s Department, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the United States Coast Guard. BUI is treated as a “zero tolerance” offense which means that arrests can be made with only minimal evidence. This makes it important for anyone arrested for BUI to consult with an attorney prior to appearing in Court.

BUI is Treated as a “Zero Tolerance” Offense

During all warm-weather months in South Carolina, our local lakes are full of boaters enjoying the waters. Among all of the recreational boaters, there are many officers with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and local sheriff departments looking to make arrests. Many times, BUI is treated as a "zero tolerance" offense, meaning you may be arrested with only minimal evidence.

Boaters suspected of driving while impaired may be arrested and criminally charged with the crime of boating under the influence or BUI. If convicted, it can result in penalties such as jail time, embarrassment, a permanent criminal record, hefty fines, mandatory alcohol and drug training, loss of boating privileges, and high insurance rates. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you contact a Lexington DUI attorney immediately after an arrest.

Were you arrested on Lake Murray?

James Snell's office is conveniently located in downtown Lexington, South Carolina, and is able to represent individuals charged with any boating offense on Lake Murray regardless of which agency or county is responsible for the prosecution. Mr. Snell is also able to represent individuals charged with any boating crime anywhere in South Carolina. Whether you are a resident of Lexington, Columbia, or another community within the state, you can receive dedicated legal assistance from the attorney's law office.

Your Legal Rights in Lexington, SC

Boating under the influence is a serious crime in South Carolina. Regardless of the offense, you have absolute legal rights. Before and during the arrest, you have the right to remain silent, to decline field testing or the breathalyzer. After the arrest, you have a right to demand to see the evidence against you, subpoena witnesses for your defense, cross-examine the police witnesses, receive a comprehensive jury trial, and have a judge instruct your jury that you are innocent until proven guilty.

South Carolina BUI Law

South Carolina has different levels of BUI offenses depending on the prior history of BUI convictions as well as the facts of the case. The base charge for Boating Under the Influence is contained in S.C. Code § 50-21-112(B)(1). The full name for the law is “operation of moving motorized water device or water device under sail while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.” This offense carries up to thirty days in the county jail. The penalty is enhanced for those with prior convictions, BUI 2nd carries up to one year in prison and BUI 3rd carries a minimum of 60 days to a maximum of three years. These penalties are in addition to a publicly accessible criminal record, possible fines, and loss of boating privileges.

Following are the Penalties You May Face for a BUI Conviction:

  • Boating Under the Influence (BUI) First Offense - S.C. Code §50-21-112(B)(1) In addition to all of the other penalties described above, a conviction for boating under the influence first offense carries up to 30 days in the county jail. This offense will be prosecuted at the magistrate court level.
  • Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Second Offense - S.C. Code §50-21-112(B)(2) A conviction for boating under the influence second offense carries up to one year in the South Carolina Department of Corrections plus all of the other standard penalties. This offense will be prosecuted at the court of general sessions.
  • Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Third Offense - S.C. Code §50-21-112(B)(3) Those convicted of a third or subsequent BUI offense may face up to three years in the South Carolina Department of Corrections. There is a minimum sentence of 60 days, and individuals in South Carolina sentenced to less than 90 days may serve their time at the county jail. The jail or prison sentence that will be imposed is in addition to all of the other penalties that come with any BUI conviction.

Sheriff and DNR BUI Cases

BUI arrests made by local law enforcement or the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will generally be referred to Magistrate Court for first offenses. Those with prior convictions will face prosecution of their 2nd or 3rd level charge in the Court of General Sessions and there the State will be represented by the Solicitor’s office.

Coast Guard BUI Cases

The United States Coast Guard regularly patrols Lake Murray performing safety inspections which include looking for impaired boaters. If you have been arrested by the Coast Guard, even for a first-offense BUI, your case will be referred for prosecution to Federal Court. James Snell is admitted to practice in the United States Court for the District of South Carolina and can represent you on any Coast Guard BUI case.

Felony BUI Defense

The most serious type of BUI offense is Boating Under the Influence with Great Bodily Injury or Death. These are exceedingly serious criminal charges that can result in up to twenty-five years (or more) imprisonment. We recommend that defendants facing this level of charge make use of marine accident reconstructionists, private investigators, and other professionals and expert witnesses to establish a strong defense. The Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, will make use of every available resource to ensure that our client’s rights are protected when facing any felony-level BUI.

If you are being investigated by the police after involvement in a serious boating accident you have a right to consult with a lawyer before agreeing to be interviewed. We represent clients charged with BUI or related offenses pending anywhere in South Carolina. Initial appointments are provided at no charge to prospective clients.

If you have been arrested for BUI you likely have several questions about your case

  • Did the police have the right to stop my boat?
  • Should I have performed the field sobriety tests?
  • Can field sobriety tests be done on a moving boat?
  • Did I make the right decision with the breathalyzer?
  • What legal rights do I have?

When you meet with James Snell to review your BUI case you will receive a thorough review of South Carolina BUI law and court procedures along with a discussion of possible legal or factual defenses. This will include time to answer any specific questions you have about your case. Once you make the decision to retain our office for your case we will implement a step by step process designed to ensure that your rights are vigorously protected. We can also assist you in filing an appeal if you have been convicted for BUI even if you were originally represented by another law firm or you went to Court by yourself.

Get in Touch with a Lexington BUI Lawyer5

Anyone convicted of a BUI offense as a result of an accident that resulted in serious personal injuries or death faces strict prosecution and up to 25 years in the South Carolina Department of Corrections. If you have been charged with any boating crime, you owe it to yourself and your family to ensure that your legal rights are protected. At Law Office of James R. Snell, our Lexington criminal lawyers can be by your side throughout this entire case.

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