Can You Get A DUI On A Kayak?

Although it doesn’t seem like a possible scenario, you actually can get a DUI while you’re out kayaking. Just like cars, kayaks are considered a vessel that we’re supposed to be operating responsibly in the eyes of the law, so the same laws apply to a boat or a kayak. In an altered state of mind, a drunk kayaker can still hurt people on a kayak.

Kayaking while drinking/drunk can be extremely dangerous and the consequences of having received a DUI can vary from state to state.

However, there are several factors that will determine whether or not you would receive a DUI for this particular activity and I’m going to detail that bit by bit for you in this article!

How You Could Get A DUI While Kayaking

The first factor to consider is if the kayak is motorized or not. Many states won’t consider paddle crafts like kayaks and canoes to be motorized vessels, which means that they can’t issue you a DUI.

However, even if you don’t have a motor, they can still issue you a BUI, which means boating under the influence. It’s entirely the officer’s choice if he wants to do that, depending on how high your blood alcohol level is, if damage to someone’s property occurred, or if someone was hurt as a result.

Some states also have laws for DUIs on watercraft which would allow officers to issue citations to those on any boat whose BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is under the legal limit. 

Many states have a no-refusal policy, which means an officer can stop you on a boat if they suspect you of drinking and you must submit to a breathalyzer test. If you have a boating license, you could lose it or have it suspended if you refuse to take the test.

If you decide to drink or go out paddling while drunk on your kayak, you may want to familiarize yourself beforehand with the laws in your state and what the consequences would be if you were caught.

On a side note, even if you weren’t caught, you could still endanger your life on the water. You could pass out, have a slow reaction to an approaching danger, you could become disoriented, etc. These are all things that can lead to dangerous accident or kill you or others so please don’t drink and get in your kayak.

Penalties For DUIs While Kayaking

Depending on the local laws in your area, getting a DUI or BUI could come with severe repercussions. These consequences could include the loss of boating privileges, fines, and/or jail, especially if you’re a repeat offender.

In addition to fines or jail or both, a DUI or BUI could mean having to pay costs associated with an accident where you are to blame. You’d also have to pay legal fees if you had to go to court, among other possible charges.

A lot of mess and that’s assuming you or no one else got hurt.

Tips for Avoiding A DUI While Kayaking

The best advice to avoid a DUI or BUI while kayaking is, as you may have guessed, to not drink while boating at all. However, if that’s the choice you want to make sometimes, here are some tips below on how to avoid getting a DUI or BUI.

1. Before you head out for some fun boating time, realize where your mental and physical states are. Do you feel tired already? Did you take drugs already that could combine with the alcohol to intensify the effects of it? Do you feel like you’re in complete control? Stay home if you’re drunk!

2. Make plans to drink AFTER kayaking, not before or during! Kayaking is a fun activity but can turn dangerous in a heartbeat so it requires you to be alert.

3. Why not give a non-alcoholic beverage a try? These beverages are delicious and keep you from missing your alcohol drinks.

4. If you get stopped by law enforcement, cooperate.

5. If you think you are drunk, alert your partner and let them take control of the kayak.

Final Thoughts

It is possible to get a DUI or BUI while kayaking, but it depends on what the state laws (or country’s laws) are, how high your BAC is, if an accident happened, or if you are using a motor on your kayak while drinking. It’s up to the officer if they want to just warn you, give you a citation, or more.

I do not advise you do this because kayaking requires alertness but if you’re going to drink on your kayak or you’ve already had a few drinks, make sure you feel well enough to operate it. You should have others with you in case of an emergency or just to make sure you’re in control of the kayak. Always wear a life jacket so it can keep you afloat if you get into trouble.

With these things in mind, remember that the best advice is to not drink at all while kayaking.

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