Information for boating under the influence (BUI) victims in Illinois
Boating Accidents - July 25, 2023
Boating under the influence (BUI) is one of the most common causes of boating accidents across Illinois. While you may be anxious to hold the drunk boat driver accountable for their negligence, it may surprise you to learn that victims of boating accidents in Illinois may be subject to substantial penalties.
Our Chicago boat accident attorneys can help you understand the boating under the influence penalties and how you can hold the boater under the influence accountable for their recklessness while protecting your right to total financial compensation.
Illinois boating under the influence laws
Illinois has strict boating under the influence laws you should be aware of if you are injured in a boat wreck. Anyone in actual physical control of any type of watercraft is prohibited from being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Typically, an individual can face criminal charges for BUI if they:
- Have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more
- Are under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two
- Have at least five or more nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood in their system
This means DUI charges can apply based on the physical level of impairments or the amount of drugs or alcohol in the boat operator’s system. These laws apply to any type of motorized or non-motorized watercraft. Even if you were in a rowboat, sailboat, or other small boat, BUI laws apply.
Penalties for BUI in Illinois
The consequences of boating under the influence carry severe criminal penalties. The extent of the penalties the boat operator will face is based on a variety of factors, including whether anyone suffered severe bodily injury or death and how many prior convictions the boat operator may have.
For example, someone facing a first BUI conviction may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, they could spend up to 364 days in jail and pay fines of up to $2,600. However, if the boat operator was charged with a second time DUI, they may be charged with a Class 4 felony. In Illinois, a conviction of this nature carries penalties that include fines of up to $25,000 and a maximum of three years in an Illinois state prison.
There are also enhanced penalties that may be possible, depending on the circumstances of your case. For example, if someone suffers disfigurement, permanent disability, or other great bodily harm, even if this is a first-time DUI offense, the boat operator will be charged with a Class 4 felony, and face a maximum of three years in prison and fines not to exceed $25,000.
Similarly, in cases where the victim suffers fatal injuries, the boat operator will be charged with a Class 2 felony. If convicted, they could spend up to 14 years in prison and the order to pay fines as high as $25,000.
Other penalties associated with boat accidents and BUI
If a passenger aboard the watercraft was under the age of 16, additional penalty enhancements may apply. Boat operators will face a minimum fine of $500 and be ordered to complete a minimum of five days of community service. If the boat operator had a suspended operator’s license, they may face Class 4 felony charges.
Drunk boat operators can also expect to face a three-year operators suspension if they are convicted of a felony BUI and a one-year operators suspension if convicted of a misdemeanor level BUI. Both insurance premiums will likely increase, and other collateral consequences may apply as well.
Boat accident victims may share fault for their damages
There may also be implications if the boat accident victim was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash or accident. Illinois follows modified comparative negligence laws, so being intoxicated as a victim will not necessarily prohibit you from recovering compensation unless your portion of fault for your injuries exceeds 50%.
Your settlement will be subject to a reduction based on your portion of the blame. For example, if you were intoxicated and found 10% liable for your injuries, your settlement will be reduced by 10%, and you will only recover 90% of your award. If you are unsure of how your case will be affected, make sure to discuss your concerns with your boat accident attorney.
Connect with an Illinois boating accident lawyer today
Boating under the influence is against the law and is taken seriously by law enforcement officials. If your injuries were caused by a drunk boat operator, do not let your own impairment stop you from recovering the full and fair compensation you are due.
Learn more about how much your case could be worth and how to protect yourself from allegations of shared culpability when you reach out to an experienced Chicago boat and watercraft lawyer from Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates. Schedule your free, no-obligation consultation when you fill out our quick contact form or call our office at (800) 985-1819 to get started today.