As Montanans, we love the outdoors and this hot weather sends us to the lake in droves.  Personally, I find few things more enjoyable than hightailing it to some body of water as soon as the office closes.  Many Montanans also enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two to refresh in the hot weather.  You have seen those advertisements mixing fun and the sun – Feeling the need to “get a little twisted”?  Maybe you’re looking to “live the high life”.  “Find your beach”.  You’d best check yourself before you “riggity riggity (DUI) wreck yourself”.

Let’s talk seriously for a minute, under the influence citations are not limited to cars on the road, boating under the influence (BUI) exists, and is often cited by law enforcement.  Under Montana law, a person may not operate a motorboat, including a sailboat propelled by a motor of any kind, or manipulate waterskis, a surfboard, or a similar device attached to a motorboat while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two.  § 23-2-523(2), MCA.  Motorboat is additionally defined as any vessel, including a personal watercraft or pontoon, propelled by any machinery, motor, or engine of any description, whether or not the machinery, motor, or engine is the principal source of propulsion.  The term includes boats temporarily equipped with detachable motors or engines.  § 23-2-502(7)(a), MCA.

Additionally, the same blood alcohol level presumptions as the driving under the influence statute apply – i.e. any level over .04 BAC can be considered by a judge or jury, and any level above .08 BAC carries a presumption that the boater was under the influence.  § 61-8-401(4), MCA.  The field sobriety tests are also applicable to boating under the influence cases, and upon conviction, a defendant can face fines and up to six months in jail.  § 23-2-507(1), MCA.  But do remember that your Constitutional rights always apply.

It is all too easy to fail to realize when you might be impaired on a hot summer day.  We are capable of making mistakes, and Montana waters are policed.  Do not let your relaxed hot weather mini vacation turn into an extended staycation at the county jail for making a mistake.

Have you found yourself already placed in the not so private Flathead County suite?  Contact our office today to set up an appointment.  The attorneys at Bryan, diStefano & Mattingley, PLLP have defended countless cases in courts all across Montana.  Know your rights and get the representation you need; contact our office today.