Coast Guard Drunk Driving BUI

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I was at the bar on my boat on lake st. clair this past weekend.  Usually we do not get messed with.  I jumped on my boat with a few of my friends and the coast guard stopped us.  They stopped us for no reason and then asked if I was drinking.  I told them I was and they made me pull the boat to the dock.  Then they made me get off the boat and started doing tests on me.  They tried to call the Saint Clair Shores police department but they would not come.  The Coast Guard gave me a ticket for Boating While Intoxicated or BUI.   I then got a court date to appear in Federal Court!!!!  Do I really have to go to Federal Court for this BUI ticket?  I was told by a friend it was just a fine.  Please help!!!


  1. Peter Torrice on August 17, 2014 at 9:24 pm said:

    Thank you for this post on and for visiting our website. This question is a great question and not one that is usual. Everyone seems to think that you can consume alcohol and drive a boat without any consequences. This is the reason for many deaths on the water. With that said, as a result of the risk of injury on a boat while drinking there are three agencies that patrol the waters. In Saint Clair Shores, Chesterfield, Harrison Township, Detroit, and all the other surrounding cities in the State of Michigan there is the Macomb County Sheriff Department (or county police), Saint Clair Shores Police Department (or city police), and the Coast Guard (or federal police).

    Each one of these departments have different jurisdiction, but all of them follow pretty much the same law. Because of your question regarding BUI or Federal Boating Under the Influence I will stick with the Federal law. Under the United States Federal Law the statute that applies is 46 USC section 2302(c) for all BUI or Boating Under the Influence cases. 46 USC 2302(c) states:

    (c) An individual who is under the influence of alcohol, or a dangerous drug in violation of a law of the United States when operating a vessel, as determined under standards prescribed by the Secretary by regulation—
    (1) is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not more than $5,000; or

    (2) commits a class A misdemeanor.

    Therefore, if you are convicted you could face the penalties as described above. To be convicted of this crime the Federal Government would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were boating under the influence. The biggest hurdle that the Coast Guard has in cases like this is that they usually only give a person a preliminary breath test (PBT) rather than a datamaster or blood draw. Therefore, it is difficult for the United States District Attorney to prove their case. Usually, the Coast Guard calls a local police department to give these tests because the Federal Government/Coast Guard is not a readily equipped for this type of crime because they usually do not deal with drunk boaters that much.

    This is the reason why you need an experienced law firm to deal with this Federal BUI charge. Here at Canu Torrice Law we have handled many Federal BUI cases and have been very successful, usually with a dismissal. Many times we can make legal arguments that the United States District Attorney is not aware of, mainly because they are more concerned with much more severe charges. As such, it is important to hire our law firm to handle your Federal BUI case and not an attorney that is experimenting with the Federal Boating Under the Influence law.

    The lawyers here at Canu Torrice Law have handled thousands of Drunk Driving cases across the State of Michigan and have been extremely successful. Please call me at the number below for any questions and we can discuss your case and all of the defenses that you have. Thanks again for visiting

    Peter A. Torrice
    32059 Utica Road
    Fraser, MI 48026

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