With summer now officially underway, a lot of folks in the Commonwealth are certain to be doing some boating. Undoubtedly, some of these boaters — captains and passengers alike — will want to enjoy some alcoholic beverages while out on the water. But before you board a boat with plans to consume alcohol, it is important to be aware of the legal implications.
In Kentucky, KRS Chapter 235 generally governs boats and their captains. Pursuant to KRS 235.240(2), “a person shall not operate any motorboat or vessel, or manipulate any water skis, surfboard, or similar device while intoxicated or under the influence of any other substance which impairs one’s driving ability.”
The penalty for a boater’s first violation of KRS 235.240 is a fine which cannot exceed $250. See KRS 235.990(2). For a boater’s second offense, the fine cannot exceed $500. And for someone’s third violation of KRS 235.240, the penalty cannot surpass $1,000 or 30 days in jail. A three-time offender must also complete a safe boating class.
Notably, the penalties for violations of KRS 235.240 only apply to someone who “operate[s]” a watercraft — and not the passengers on board. See KRS 235.240(2). However, a police officer who wants to arrest a passenger for being inebriated on a boat may utilize KRS 222.202, which generally prohibits someone from being intoxicated in a public place.
In sum, if you’re going to be boating this summer, be safe, have fun, and avoid irresponsible drinking.Back to news