One man died, and another was charged with boating under the influence (BUI) after a jet ski collision near Red Bluff Landing on the Waccamaw River in Conway last month.

The suspect was arrested by officers with the SC Department of Natural Resources, charged with felony BUI, and held at the J Reuben Long Detention Center on a bond of $15,000.

What’s the difference between boating under the influence (BUI) and felony BUI in South Carolina? Are they the same as driving under the influence (DUI) and felony DUI?

Below is an overview of what it means to be charged with boating under the influence in SC.

What Is BUI In SC?

BUI is similar to DUI in SC – to convict a person of BUI, the state must prove that the defendant was 1) operating the boat, 2) while materially and appreciably impaired.

A first-offense BUI conviction carries a mandatory minimum of 48 hours in jail or community service and up to 30 days in jail, a six-month suspension of boating privileges, completion of the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP) at a cost of about $500, and completion of a boating safety course.

What is Felony BUI in SC?

When a BUI accident causes someone’s death, the offense is a felony and can result in fines up to $25,000, up to 25 years in prison, and a three-year suspension of boating privileges.

The elements that the state must prove are the same as for an “ordinary” boating under the influence charge, with the added element that the defendant caused the other person’s death (while operating the boat and while materially and appreciably impaired).

How Do I Fight a Boating Under the Influence Charge (BUI)?

BUI charges are similar to DUI charges – when we take on a BUI case, we gather all available evidence and investigate the incident, including:

  • Videos of the arrest and breathalyzer test;
  • Incident reports and supplemental incident reports prepared by the officer;
  • Witness statements;
  • The officer’s training records, certifications, and history when appropriate; and
  • Any other evidence that the state intends to use against you at trial.

We will challenge the state’s evidence whenever possible, including:

  • Whether the officer properly conduct the Afloat Test Battery or seated field sobriety tests at the scene (comparable to the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) in a DUI case;
  • Whether the breath test was properly administered; and
  • The admissibility of any adverse witness testimony.

We will get statements from your witnesses as well, and, in some cases, we may need expert testimony to explain the workings of the Datamaster machine, the proper procedures for sobriety tests during a BUI investigation, or any other technical issue that will help the jury to understand why you are not guilty of the offense.

Fighting a Felony BUI in SC

In a felony BUI defense, we must investigate the cause of the accident as well as whether our client was operating while under the influence.

If the accident was not caused by the defendant, even if jurors find that the defendant was BUI, it can mean the difference between a maximum of 30 days in jail or 25 years in prison…

Boating Under the Influence Defense Lawyers in Myrtle Beach, SC

If you have been charged with boating under the influence in the Myrtle Beach or Horry County area, call Coastal Law now at (843) 488-5000 or by emailing us through our website to speak with a BUI defense attorney today.

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