Arizona OUI Penalties

Read about the consequences of being convicted of drunk boating in Arizona.

By Josh Egan

In Arizona, it’s illegal to operate or be in actual physical control of a motorized watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The penalties for operating a boat under the influence (OUI), sometimes called “boating under the influence” (BUI), depend on a number of factors, including whether the operator:

  • has prior OUI convictions (prior DUIs don’t count)
  • had a person under the age of 15 aboard the watercraft, and
  • had an excessive blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 5-395, 5-395.01, 5-396, 5-396.01, 5-397 (2016).)

See below for a discussion of the possible penalties for various types of OUI offenses. For more information on this subject, see Arizona's Operating a Watercraft Under the Influence Laws and Possible Defenses to an Arizona OUI Charge.

Penalties for Standard OUIs

A standard OUI involves operating a motorboat while “impaired to the slightest degree,” having a BAC of at least .08% but less than .15% within two hours of boating, or having any amount of drugs in the body. The consequences for a first, second, and third standard OUI are:

  • First offense. A first-offense standard OUI is a class 1 misdemeanor. Most convictions carry at least $1,250 in fines and assessments and a minimum of ten consecutive days in jail. The judge must order all first offenders to complete an alcohol and drug assessment. Depending on the circumstances, the judge might also order the offender to participate in a substance abuse education or treatment program.
  • Second offense within 84 months. A second-offense standard OUI is a class 1 misdemeanor. Second-offense convictions typically carry at least $3,000 in fines and assessments, a minimum 90 days in jail (30 of which must be served consecutively), and 30 hours of community service.
  • Third offense within 84 months. A third-offense standard OUI is one type of “aggravated” OUI and a class 4 felony. Third-offense convictions typically carry at least $4,000 in fines and assessments and a minimum of four months in prison. Third offenders placed on probation must also complete an alcohol and drug screening and possibly a substance abuse treatment program. Perhaps the most serious financial penalty is forfeiture of the watercraft. The state will seize the watercraft owned and operated by the offender at the time of the offense.

Generally, for a first or second standard OUI, the judge can reduce the jail time if the offender completes substance abuse treatment. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 5-395.01, 5-396, 5-396.01 (2016).)

Penalties for Extreme OUIs

An “extreme” OUI involves having a BAC of at least .15% but less than .2% within two hours of operating a motorboat. The consequences for a first, second, and third extreme OUI are:

  • First offense. A first-offense extreme OUI is a class 1 misdemeanor. Most convictions carry up to $2,500 in fines and assessments and a minimum of 30 consecutive days in jail.
  • Second extreme OUI within 84 months. An operator whose second-offense is an extreme OUI is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor. Convicted boaters face up to $3,250 in fines and assessments, a minimum of 120 days in jail (60 of which must be served consecutively), and at least 30 hours of community service.
  • Third offense within 84 months. The penalties for a third extreme OUI are the same as those for a third standard OUI. (See above.)

Generally, for a first or second extreme OUI, the judge can reduce the jail time if the offender completes substance abuse treatment. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 5-396, 5-396.01, 5-397 (2016).)

Penalties for Super-Extreme OUIs

A “super-extreme” OUI involves having a BAC of .2% or more within two hours of operating a motorboat. The consequences for a first, second, and third super-extreme OUI are:

  • First offense. A first-offense super-extreme OUI is a class 1 misdemeanor. A conviction carries at least $2,750 in fines and assessments and a minimum of 45 consecutive days in jail.
  • Second super-extreme OUI within 84 months. An operator whose second-offense is a super-extreme OUI is guilty of a class one misdemeanor. Most convictions carry up to $3,750 in fines and assessments, a minimum of 180 in jail (90 of which must be served consecutively), and at least 30 hours of community service.
  • Third offense within 84 months. The penalties for a third super-extreme OUI are the same as those for a third standard OUI. (See above.)

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 5-396, 5-396.01, 5-397 (2016).)

Penalties for Having Passenger Younger Than 15

A person who operates a motorboat under the influence with a passenger under the age of 15 can be convicted of an “aggravated” OUI.

Unlike third-offense “aggravated” OUIs (see above), an aggravated OUI based on an underage passenger doesn’t carry a mandatory prison sentence. Instead, the required jail time is the same as it would be for the underlying offense. For example, if an operator with a BAC of .08% is convicted of their second OUI and there was a passenger on board younger than 15, there’s a minimum 90-day jail sentence (30 of which must be served consecutively)—the same as for a second standard OUI.  The biggest difference is that the offense is a class 6 felony instead of a class 1 misdemeanor. Convicted boaters also face at least $4,000 in fines and assessments and boat forfeiture.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 5-396 (2016).)

HOW MUCH TIME WOULD YOU ACTUALLY SPEND IN JAIL?

Sentencing law is complex. For example, a statute might list a “minimum” jail sentence that’s longer than the actual amount of time (if any) a defendant will have to spend behind bars. All kinds of factors can affect actual punishment, including credits for good in-custody behavior and jail-alternative work programs.

If you face criminal charges, consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney with command of the rules in your jurisdiction will be able to explain the law as it applies to your situation.

Talk to an Attorney

Arizona OUI law is complicated and the facts of every case are different. If you’ve been arrested for boating under the influence in Arizona, get in contact with an attorney who handles OUI cases. A qualified attorney can help you understand how the law applies to the facts of your case and what penalties you might be facing. 

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