Arizona Boating OUI Laws – Boating DUI – Operating Motorized Watercraft – ARS 5-395

Drinking Alcohol while Driving Boat is OUI

Operating Under the Influence, Boating Under the Influence or OUI in Arizona: What the Charges Include and What You Need to Know

In the state of Arizona, it is illegal to operate a motorized boat under the influence of any spirituous alcohol, marijuana, or any other drug, be they prescribed by a doctor or otherwise consumed with or without a prescription from a medical professional.

Sometimes referred to as a OUI (Operating Under the Influence), BUI (Boating Under the Influence), or even “Boating DUI”, in the state of Arizona, operating or being in actual physical control of any motorized watercraft under the influence is considered illegal, and therefore has legal consequences that are not dissimilar to the consequences for driving under the influence (DUI) in Arizona — a state known for its harsh legal consequences when it comes to driving under the influence of any alcohol, marijuana, illicit or prescription drugs.

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What is Considered a Motorized Watercraft in the State of Arizona?

It’s important that you understand what types of watercraft in the state of Arizona qualify under this law so that you know — and the Arizona OUI attorney who will represent you understands — exactly the charges levied against you, and what, if any, leeway that may afford you legally.

In the state of Arizona, the law that covers and includes Operating Under the Influence, or OUI, is called Arizona Revised Statute §5-395. According to ARS §5-395, when you operate or are in actual physical control of any motorized watercrafts — personal or otherwise — and have consumed or are under the influence of any drugs, prescription medications, or any type of alcohol, you can be charged with operating under the influence (OUI), otherwise known in the state of Arizona as boating under the influence (BUI).

This can be particularly complex because according to the law as defined in ARS §5-301 a “motorized watercraft” means: any watercraft that is propelled by machinery whether or not the machinery is the principal source of propulsion. Therefore, getting the right attorney on your side early can help undercut the government’s case as they struggle to make your boat fit the crime.


Police Giving Sobriety Test to Boat Driver(Source: Shutterstock)

The Details Surrounding Your Operating Under the Influence (OUI) Charges Matter to Arizona Judges and Courts

Some of the penalties for boating under the influence or being in actual physical control of any motorized watercraft can change depending on a variety of other factors surrounding the charge(s), such as:

  • Does the operator of the motorized  watercraft have any other priors operating a watercraft under the influence (OUI or BUI) charges in the past seven years? (For this, it is important to understand that driving under the influence charges do not impact this important detail of OUI in Arizona.)
  • Has the person in actual control of the personal or group watercraft have a person under the age of 15 aboard the watercraft while operating it?
  • Does the person operating the personal or group watercraft have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level above 0.15 or a BAC that would be considered by an Arizona court to be an excessive blood alcohol concentration?

It’s easy to see how seriously operating under the influence charges are taken by the state of Arizona law enforcement, judges, and courts. Arizona authorities are quite serious about being in physical control of any kind of motorized watercraft, and as such, most of the penalties associated with these types of OUI or Boating DUI charges are about as serious as they come in any other state in the US.

And, of course, there can also be other factors involved as well, but these are the core variables that will make the difference in the kinds of charge(s) you have to face in an Arizona judge for an operating under the influence (OUI) charge.


Penalties, Fees, and Other Potential Fines Associated with an Operating Under the Influence (OUI) Charge in Arizona

For your First OUI Offense in Arizona, you will be charged for a class 1 misdemeanor, and for this, you may have to spend a minimum of 10 consecutive days in an Arizona jail.

Additionally, you must also:

  • Pay a minimum of $1,250 in fines, fees, and assessments to the state of Arizona courts
  • Complete a drug and alcohol drug assessment, and potentially be screened for drugs and alcohol as part of probation, which the judge may decide is required in your case
  • You may also be required to participate in substance abuse education and/or a treatment program if the judge in your case deems it necessary based on the unique circumstances of your particular case

Second OUI Offense Within a Period of 84 Months

If you are charged with a second operating under the influence offense within a period of 84 months or less from your previous OUI charge, it will also be considered a class 1 misdemeanor, but this time:

  • If convicted, you must spend a minimum of 90 days in an Arizona jail, and 30 of those days in jail must be spent consecutively
  • Fines, fees, and other assessments will cost you $3,000
  • You will be given a minimum of 30 hours of community service
  • You may have to attend substance abuse education classes, and the judge may also decide you need to partake in a substance treatment program

Third OUI Offense Within 84 Months

If you are arrested and charged with a third operating under the influence offense within a period of 84 months in the state of Arizona, this is considered an aggravated offense, and the stakes are much higher in these types of cases.

As a class 4 felony, third time OUI or BUI offenses carry with them minimum fines, fees, and assessments of $4,000 and:

  • A minimum of four months in prison
  • The completion of an alcohol and drug screening
  • Potentially undergo substance abuse treatment
  • The judge may also decide that you can no longer legally operate any type of watercraft; your watercraft operating privileges may also be revoked for any period, and this may also prevent you from operating watercrafts legally anywhere in the US
  • You may also be sentenced with probation, the length of which is entirely up to the judge in your case, but can be for up to ten years
  • The judge may also force you to forfeit boat used during the incident, which as you know could cost you thousands and thousands of dollars

Maricopa County Sheriff Pulled over Boat

Extreme Operating Under the Influence: Arizona Extreme OUI

In the state of Arizona, an extreme OUI is one in which the person in actual control of the boat, personal, or group watercraft has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.15% or higher within two hours of operation.

Just as with class 1 misdemeanor OUI in Arizona, there are first, second, and third offense differences across 84 months. Extreme OUIs involve offenses where the BAC level was 0.15% or above, and again a second time or third time subsequently within 84 months.

For the First Time Extreme OUI you can expect:

  • A minimum of 30 days in jail
  • Fines, fees, and assessments of up to $2,500

For the Second Extreme OUI in Arizona, you can expect:

  • A minimum of 120 days in jail, 60 of which must be served consecutively
  • Up to $3,250 in fines, fees, and assessments
  • A minimum of 30 hours of community service

A Third Extreme OUI offense within an 84-month period is considered an Aggravated Offense, and as such, you can expect:

  • A minimum of four months in jail
  • Fines, fees, and assessments of at least $4,000
  • You must complete alcohol and drug screening and potentially a drug and/or alcohol treatment program
  • Probation as decided by the judge in your case
  • Forfeiture of any watercraft used in the incident

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Super Extreme OUI in Arizona: What You Need to Know

Super extreme OUI offenses are taken quite seriously by the Arizona legal system and are those OUI offenses in which the offender had a BAC level of 0.2% or higher within two hours of being in actual physical control of any personal or group watercraft.

  • For the first offense, you can expect to spend 45 consecutive days in jail and pay a minimum of $2,750 in fines, fees, and assessments.
  • For a second extreme OUI within an 84-month period, you can expect to spend 180 days in jail, 90 of which must be consecutive, and you will pay as much as $3,750 in fines, fees, and assessments.
  • If you are charged with a third super extreme OUI in the state of Arizona, you can expect penalties similar to those of a standard third time OUI offense, which are as follows:
      • A minimum of $4,000 in fines, fees, and assessments
      • Up to four months in prison
      • Probation for a period decided by the judge in your case
      • Participation in a drug and/or alcohol treatment program
      • You may have the watercraft in question forfeited: this means the state will take your watercraft away, and that means you cannot even sell them to minimize the financial impact

An Experienced Arizona OUI Attorney On Your Side

Whether you have been charged with a first, second, third, or consecutive OUI, extreme OUI, or super extreme OUI, our highly trained and experienced Arizona criminal attorneys know exactly what it takes to build a defense based on the very unique circumstances surrounding your specific OUI or BUI case.

At the Schill Law Group, we take the time to investigate and deeply research every nuance of any given case we are working on, and yours will be no different. We can craft an Arizona OUI defense with the best chance of getting you the winning results you want and need and give you the very best chance at having your OUI charges dismissed entirely, or dramatically reduced to community service or less.

If you are afraid you may lose your watercraft, or you are fearful that you may have to spend time in jail or prison based on the OUI charged you face in the state of Arizona, our law team is exactly who you can trust to ensure this does not happen.

Get started today with the Schill Law Group: we offer a completely Free Legal Consultation, and we use this time with you to explain exactly how we can create a winning defense based on the details you give us. Our consultations are completely free and entirely private under attorney-client privilege. Give us a call today to get started at (480) 525-8900.