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Understanding the difference between DUI and BUI

Operating machinery under the influence is quite dangerous, and the courts treat such situations very seriously. Depending upon the type of vehicle an individual is operating while under the influence, it may be possible to face either DUI or BUI charges.

Some people are not aware of how different DUI and BUI charges can be. However, it is important to understand the contrasts.

Probable cause

With a motor vehicle stop, law enforcement must have reasonable suspicions of illegal or criminal activity. On the other hand, an officer may stop a boat for various reasons without probable cause. 


When operating a car, an individual must be behind the wheel, which makes it quite easy to designate the driver. This is significantly different with a boat, considering that it can be on autopilot so an individual does not have to be steering it in order for it to be in operation. Therefore, the definition for operation of a boat contains much more detail. In short, the operator is the individual who is directly steering the vessel or who is in charge of its navigation or safety.


Usual sobriety tests, such as walking in a straight line, are not always possible considering the condition and location of the boat. Therefore, law enforcement must utilize other types of tests. If an individual faces a DUI charge, refusing a breathalyzer also carries different penalties than someone refusing a breathalyzer for a BUI charge. The penalties for a BUI conviction are different from DUI penalties as well.

There are quite a few differences between a DUI and a BUI. If boaters face one of these charges, they should do their research and make sure that they fully understand all that the process entails. It may also be beneficial to discuss options with a knowledgeable attorney to see what may be the best course of action.

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