Changes to Colorado’s law on boating under the influence recently went into effect, decreasing the legal limit for blood alcohol content and expanding the reach of the law to operators of any waterborne vessel.
Previously, the BUI law applied only to operators of motorboats or sailboats whose BAC was .10 or above. Now, the limit for BAC is .08, making it consistent with the legal limit for motor vehicle operators on Colorado roadways.
The new BUI law applies to any water vessel powered by motor, paddle or oar, including jet skis, kayaks, canoes, sailboats and rafts.
“Drinking alcohol on the water can be just as dangerous as on land,” said Rick Storm, chief of law enforcement for Colorado State Parks, in a statement. “The impacts of alcohol are naturally accelerated by marine factors, such as sun, wind, motion and spray, increasing the risk of accidents, capsizing or falling overboard,” he added.
Penalties for a BUI conviction have not changed. A vessel operator found to be under the influence of alcohol, drugs or controlled substances faces a misdemeanor charge with penalties of five days to one year in prison, fines between $200 and $1,000, loss of privilege to operate a vessel for three months and up to 96 hours of community service.
Colorado is among 38 states that have adopted a BAC limit of .08 for boating.