As the summer season gets underway, many residents in Virginia are anxious to get out on the water. Boating is one of the classic summertime joys but people who operate the boats should be aware of the laws governing boating and drinking.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles explains that the laws in the state view driving a boat just like driving a car when it comes to intoxication. That means that even if a person is 21 years of age or older, they can be charged with an offense of operating a boat under the influence of alcohol if their blood alcohol content is at least 0.08 percent. In some cases, the law may actually support an arrest if a person’s BAC is below 0.08 percent if impairment can be proven.

According to the Virginia Boat Education Course, anyone who drives a boat and is under the age of 21 may be charged with a boating while intoxicated offense with a BAC of 0.02 percent or greater. At a BAC of 0.08 percent, a person’s ability to control speed, concentration and attention are all said to be compromised. Judgement and the ability to process information is said to be compromised at a level of 0.06 percent.

A conviction for boating while intoxicated may result in a person’s ability to drive a boat for some time being suspended. Fines and prison time may also be part of the penalties depending upon the circumstances. The exact penalties may vary in part based upon whether or not a person has had a prior offense.