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Profitt Report: How much you'll pay if you're caught boating while intoxicated

Boating while intoxicated will cost you in the state of Michigan. Cropped Photo: Ben Molnar / U.S. Coast Guard

You’ve probably heard of a DUI, driving under the influence of alcohol, but have you ever heard of a BUI? Boating under the influence?

Getting behind the steering wheel of your boat feels a lot different than getting into the driver’s seat of your car, you’re more relaxed and ready to unwind. However, when it comes to penalties for boating while buzzed, there are no differences.

“You’ve got to protect yourself because the water is unforgiving,” said Genesee County Undersheriff Chirs Swanson, “it's more dangerous to drink and drive on the water.”

Swanson said this is because you don’t have a seat belt, boats aren’t created for collisions and if you’re thrown from the boat, the water can be deadly. That’s why the county’s marine division will be patrolling our area lakes this holiday weekend and if the dangers aren’t enough to make you think twice about drinking and boating, the price tag might.

“You might as well say it's a $10,000 drink,” Swanson said.

A few years ago, legislators lowered the blood alcohol limit for boaters from .01 to .08: the same limit on the road. Swanson said his $10,000 figure is broken down into a few categories.

“Loss of work, the attorney fees to defend your position or work through the court system, the cost recovery system that the township, city and local government charges the individual,” he said.

You can expect points on your license, which will make your insurance costlier.

“Even on a boat, if you operate under the influence of alcohol, it transfers to your driving record,” Swanson said.

Tack on the initial fine, court fees and you’re at about $10,000, and this is just for the first offense. Swanson said, while your passengers are free to enjoy a few, the captain should be sober until they’re on shore for the night.

“The reason we do these stories is to constantly remind people, you're going to go out there and have a good time, just use common sense, don't put your life or anybody else's at risk,” Swanson said.

The Profitt Report wants to hear from you - please send consumer questions and story ideas to ProfittReport@WSMH.com

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