How to avoid a BUI (Boating Under the Influence) personal injury accident

Boat washed up on shore after boating accident

Here’s the idyllic yet potentially deadly scenario: It’s warm, it’s summer, you’re out on the water in a boat with friends enjoying the sun with a few brewskies. You don’t see the boat in front of you. Two young people sitting at the bow of the boat die at the scene. A true story.

This tragedy occurred on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake this year, killing William Lewis “Trey” Varner III, of Texarkana, Arkansas and his friend. The boat’s driver, whose blood-alcohol-content (BAC) registered at 0.18 (the legal limit for driving a motor vehicle here and in Oklahoma is 0.08.) plowed into a 96-foot unoccupied docked houseboat.

Arkansas’ Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Laws

Every state in the union has laws prohibiting operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Here is a snapshot of Arkansas’ BUI laws.

  • The legal BAC limit is the same as it is for driving a car, 0.08 for adults, and 0.02 for underage drivers.
  • A fine of up to $1,000, and as much as up to one year in jail are the possible penalties for a first time conviction.
  • Boating operation privileges may be suspended for up to three months, or they can be permanently revoked.
  • More severe penalties exist for repeat offenders, or if someone dies or sustains a personal injury, because of the boat driver’s actions.
  • Those convicted of BUI may have to complete an approved alcohol education and treatment program before a boating license can be reinstated.
  • Those found guilty could become convicted felons.

How to avoid a BUI personal injury accident

You don’t want you or your boat passengers to become another statistic, nor do you want to live your life knowing your negligent actions injured or killed someone. By following basic safety rules, you can avoid a BUI personal injury accident.

  • Never drink and drive a boat.
  • If drinking is going to occur, name a designated driver.
  • Know that the deadliest boating (and car) accidents occur on the weekends of Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Just as with driving a car, drive your boat defensively.
  • Boating laws (including BUI laws) and regulations are different in every state, so be sure to be aware of them if traveling out of state. In addition, some states do not allow open containers in a boat.
  • Life vests are an essential for avoiding injury or death. Because alcohol impairs one’s balance and judgment, it is very important that everyone in the boat wear life vests. It is a requirement in many states that children wear them.

In the unfortunate event you or a loved one is injured in a boating accident, you should consult with an experienced boating DUI attorney. He or she will evaluate the evidence, and ascertain whether you have a claim. A knowledgeable Arkansas boating accident attorney can help you win your case.

Warmer weather is a time for fun on the water, but please, take precautions to protect yourself, your friends, your family and others by avoiding alcohol and driving defensively when operating a boat.

If you have any questions about this topic or any other matters of personal injury, please don’t hesitate to call me at 501-374-6300, or email me at


Contact Information:

The Law Offices of Peter Miller

1601 S. Broadway

Little Rock, AR 72206

Phone: 501-374-6300




The content of this blog was prepared by Law Office of Peter Miller, P.A. for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or provide legal advice. Laws differ by jurisdiction, and the information in this blog may not apply to you. You should seek the assistance of an attorney licensed to practice in your state before taking any action. Using this blog site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Law Office of Peter Miller, P.A. Attorney-client relationships can only be created by written contract.

Image courtesy of Aleksey

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