Can You Get A Dui On A Kayak?


Kayaking on a beautiful-weather day can be a delightful experience, and what better way is there to make the night even more epic than a couple of beers?

While kayaks aren’t full-blown boats with motors and control rooms, they’re still considered vessels on the public waterways, which means that you can actually get a driving under the influence “DUI” fine, or in this case, boating under the influence “BUI.”

In this post, we’ll show you exactly when, why, and how you could get a DUI on a kayak so you can avoid it. 

What is the Penalty for a DUI on a Kayak?

Penalties for BUIs on kayaks vary from state to state, but we’ll give you an estimate of what you should expect if you were ever fined for drinking on your kayak.

dui on a kayak

First Offense

A first-time fine for drinking and kayaking could cost you anywhere from $200 to $1000 and jail time between one and six months. 

Second Offense

Getting fined for drinking and kayaking one more time could cost you up to $2000 and anywhere from six to 12 months in jail.

Third Offense (Repeat Offender)

If you get a BUI for a 3rd time, expect the penalties to increase significantly. You could pay a fine that ranges from $1000 up to $3000 or spend jail time for up to two years.

Different Circumstances

In certain situations, you may get additional fines over the ones we’ve previously mentioned. For example, if you have a minor on board, you may pay more fines and get more jail time.

Furthermore, you could potentially have your boating license deactivated for several years or even a lifetime if you are a repeat offender or felony BUI. Not to mention, you might have to go through a mandatory alcohol education program.

And it’s not just the United States; many other countries have some stringent rules for boating and drinking, even for kayaks. Some of these countries include Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and Australia.

How to Avoid Getting a DUI on a Kayak

Nobody wants to get fined or find out they’re going to jail when on a fun kayaking trip. You can easily avoid getting a DUI when on your kayak by merely refraining from drinking before and while operating the kayak. 

However, there might be a few exceptions. State laws vary from state to state, especially when it comes to motorized and non-motorized kayaks. A motorized kayak will most likely be treated just like a huge ship.

Are we saying that you’ll never get a BUI on a non-motorized kayak? Definitely not. It all depends on the officer’s own interpretation of the state’s laws and how he assesses the situation. Being courteous can also play a huge role in that. Many people aren’t even aware that they could get a BUI on a kayak, which makes things a bit worse. 

You could do a straightforward trick: drink on the shore. Drinking on the shore is a much safer choice than doing it while operating the kayak, but that doesn’t mean that you can go on your kayak the moment you’re done drinking. You must time it right and ensure that you finish your drink at least a few hours before piloting the kayak again. 

If you’re with another person, it’d be even better to simply allow the other person to paddle the kayak until you’re no longer under the influence. 

It’s More Than Just Alcohol

There’s a common misconception that DUI or BUI is limited to driving under the influence of alcohol only. However, it also includes consuming any substance that affects your ability to pilot your kayak properly at 100% concentration. 

So, whether it’s alcohol, marijuana, or even a sleep-time medication, these can all be included under the umbrella of substances that make you under the influence.

What If There are Two People on the Kayak?

Since non-motorized kayaks don’t require a vehicle license, a kayak DUI fine will be given to whoever is operating the kayak at the time of the incident. If two people are paddling and both are under the influence, both would be charged for boating under the influence.

Stay Safe

BUIs aside, always remember that safety must be your number one priority. Kayaking requires fast reactions and an uncompromised vision. Avoid consuming any type of substance that could get you high at all costs when kayaking. Not only will you dodge getting a BUI, but also protect yourself and the people with you from serious injuries or even death.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, here’s our verdict when it comes to getting a DUI on a kayak: never drink on a motorized kayak. It’s best to drink on the shore and wait a few hours before getting back on your kayak.

If you do drink on a non-motorized kayak, you may or may not get a DUI depending on the circumstances. It’s good practice to avoid drinking on a kayak as much as possible.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t legal advice. This is just our two cents when it comes to this matter. If this is a crucial issue to you and you need legitimate legal advice, consult your lawyer for full disclosure.

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