In Nevada, and under federal law, it is illegal to operate a motorboat, sailboat, any other vessel, or use water skis or a surfboard while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The legal limit for operating or using these devices is .08 (the same for driving a car). Illegal drugs, or "prohibited substances" have legal limits also. The legal limit of a prohibited substance depends on the substance and whether you submitted to a blood or urine test. The limits are as follows:                                                                                                                                                                                   
Prohibited Substance

Blood (in nanograms Urine (in nanograms per
per milliliter) milliliter)

(a) Amphetamine                                                              500                                 100

(b) Cocaine                                                                               150                                   50

(c) Cocaine metabolite                                                         
150                               50
(d) Heroin                                                                            

2,000                                 50
(e) Heroin metabolite:

• Morphine                                                                
2,000                                    50
             (2) 6-monoacetyl morphine                                            
10                                   10
(f) Lysergic acid diethylamide                                              
25                                   10
(g) Marijuana                                                                           

10                                    2
(h) Marijuana metabolite                                                      
•                                      5
(i) Methamphetamine                                                          
500                                  100
(j) Phencyclidine                                                                      
25                                   10

You have many of the same defenses in a DUI boating case that you do for a DUI with a motor vehicle. Specifically, your blood or urine test must be taken within 2 hours of operating the vessel or using the water skis or other similar device. If the testing did not occur within 2 hours, you have a valid argument to have the test results suppressed (kept out at trial). Further, you have the defense that you drank alcohol after you operated the boat (after the fact drinking). Additionally, the government must prove that you were actually operating or in control of the vessel. Finally, you can argue that you did not receive a choice between a blood or breath test, and for this reason, the test results should be suppressed.

Notably, in Nevada, you do not have the option to refuse an evidentiary test to determine presence of alcohol if the officers suspects you were boating under the influence. You are deemed to have agreed to take a preliminary breath test simply by operating a boat in Nevada waters.

If there is no death or substantial bodily harm, you will be charged with a misdemeanor for boating under the influence. If you are under the influence while operating or being in actual control of a vessel, and you cause death or substantial bodily harm, you will be charged with a category B felony. This felony carries a 2-20 year prison sentence. In either case, your punishment can be more serious if there were a person under 15 years old in the boat at the time of the violation.
Boating under the influence is also one of the few crimes where the legislature prohibits the prosecution for entering into a plea bargain unless the prosecutor knows or it is obvious that the charge cannot be proved at trial.     
  Finally, if you have 3 prior convictions, are under the influence, and someone is killed as a result of your alleged actions, you will be charged with homicide by vessel. This carries either a life sentence, with parole eligibility beginning after 10 years, or 25 years with parole eligibility beginning after 10 years.
If either you or a loved one has been charged with any type of crime involving boating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, contact us now to discuss your defenses.

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