With spring officially here, boat owners know that sunshine and milder temperatures lead to pleasant excursions on the water.

If you are among those who look forward to taking friends and family boating, keep the risks of BUI firmly in mind. Boating under the influence of alcohol can be dangerous—and costly.

The hazards of BUI

When you are out in a boat, the combination of sun, wind, spray, engine noise and vibration may cause you to become intoxicated more quickly than if you were on land. In addition, you do not drive your boat nearly as often as you drive your car. You are therefore less experienced on the water and need to stay alert at all times

The physical effects of alcohol

Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol is dangerous for several reasons. To begin with, your judgment and cognitive abilities will suffer impairment. Drinking affects your balance, coordination and reaction time; consequently, you will not react to emergency situations as quickly as if you were sober. Alcohol might also create an inner ear issue. This means that if you should fall overboard, you may not be able to tell up from down.

Enforcing the law

In every state, it is illegal for anyone to operate a boat while intoxicated. In North Dakota, your blood alcohol content level only has to be .01 percent for a BUI charge; in Minnesota, the level is .08 percent. The United States Coast Guard enforces the federal law that prohibits boating under the influence of alcohol, and it is prohibited even if you are in a canoe or rowboat. The penalties for BUI are similar to those you would expect for a DUI conviction on land, including fines, loss of driving privileges and the possibility of jail time. If you face a charge of boating under the influence, explore your legal options. A BUI charge is, in fact, a big deal and you want the best outcome possible for your case.