Michigan is well-known for its incredible lakes and summers filled with adventure on the water. As with any state that must manage a large number of boats and personal watercraft combined with adults who drink, Michigan has established its own Boating Under the Influence, or BUI laws. Much like the guidelines that define Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws, there are certain expectations of everyone with the ability to legally operate a boat or personal watercraft in Michigan, especially when it comes to consuming alcohol.
According to Michigan’s BUI laws, a person must be of legal age to drink while operating a boat or personal watercraft, just as when operating a motor vehicle. In fact, Michigan’s BUI laws generally follow the same guidelines as its DUI laws, including the legal limit of alcohol that defines a person’s level of intoxication. At .08 BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration), a person is considered legally intoxicated in all 50 states, and this includes a person who is drinking and boating. This also means that the same penalties for a DUI in Michigan apply to a BUI in Michigan – including fines, court costs, and the potential for an ignition interlock requirement on any vehicles driven, even if the violation occurred while operating a boat or watercraft.
The danger of operating a boat or watercraft while intoxicated are obvious, especially since about one-third of accidents on the water are attributed to intoxicated boaters. Michigan’s BUI laws are an example of how even a fun weekend on the lake can turn into a criminal offense, and can even affect a person’s life off of the water. The best way to enjoy a summer of fun in Michigan is to stay sober and enjoy the recreational activities, beautiful landscapes and a character of living all its own.