TITLE 46
Waters and Navigation

CHAPTER 46-22.2
Alcohol Boating Safety Act

SECTION 46-22.2-3


§ 46-22.2-3. Violations by intoxicated watercraft operators.

(a) Any person who operates or otherwise drives any watercraft in waters over which this state has jurisdiction while intoxicated or after he or she has been ordered not to operate a watercraft under the provisions of this chapter, shall be guilty of a civil violation, a misdemeanor or a felony and punished as set forth in this section.

(b) Any person who operates any watercraft in waters over which this state has jurisdiction while intoxicated and while so operating causes the death or serious bodily injury to another person shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished in accordance with subdivision (f)(2) of this section.

(c)(1) Any person charged under subsection (a) whose blood alcohol level is eight one-hundredths of one percent (.08%) or more by weight as shown by a chemical test of a blood, breath, or urine sample shall be guilty of violating subsection (a) of this section. This provision shall not preclude a conviction based on other admissible evidence. Proof of guilt under this section may also be based on evidence that the person charged was under the influence of intoxicating liquor, drugs, toluene, or any controlled substance or any combination thereof, to a degree which rendered such person incapable of safely operating a watercraft. The fact that any person charged with violating this section is or has been legally entitled to use alcohol or a drug shall not constitute a defense against any charge of violating this section.

(2) Any person who operates or otherwise drives any watercraft in waters over which this state has jurisdiction with a blood presence of any controlled substance, as shown by a chemical test of a blood or urine sample, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided in subdivisions (d)(2) and (e)(1) of this section, or, for a third or subsequent violation of this subsection, shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished as provided in subdivision (f)(1) of this section.

(d)(1) Every person convicted of a first violation of subdivision (c)(1) of this section whose blood alcohol level is eight one-hundredths of one percent (.08%) but less than one-tenth of one percent (.1%) by weight shall be found to have committed a civil violation and may be subject to a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250), may be required to perform ten (10) to sixty (60) hours of public community restitution, may be required to attend a department of environmental management endorsed boating safety course, and his or her right to operate a watercraft shall be suspended for up to forty-five (45) days.

(2) Every person convicted of a first violation of subdivision (c)(1) of this section whose blood alcohol level is one-tenth of one percent (.1%) but less than fifteen hundredths of one percent (.15%) by weight, or whose blood alcohol level is unknown, or who has been convicted of a first violation of subdivision (c)(2) of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to a mandatory fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than three hundred dollars ($300) and shall be required to perform ten (10) to sixty (60) hours of public community restitution and/or shall be imprisoned for up to one year. The sentence may be served in any unit of the adult correctional institutions in the discretion of the sentencing judge. The person's right to operate a watercraft shall be suspended for a period of three (3) months to six (6) months. The sentencing judge shall require attendance at a department of environmental management endorsed boating safety course, and/or alcoholic or drug treatment for the individual.

(3) Every person convicted of a first violation of subdivision (c)(1) of this section whose blood alcohol level is fifteen hundredths of one percent (.15%) or more by weight, or who is under the influence of a drug, toluene or any controlled substance, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to a mandatory fine of five hundred dollars ($500) and shall be required to perform twenty (20) to sixty (60) hours of public community restitution and/or shall be imprisoned for up to one year. The sentence may be served in any unit of the adult correctional institutions in the discretion of the sentencing judge. The person's right to operate a watercraft shall be suspended for a period of three (3) months to six (6) months. The sentencing judge shall require attendance at a department of environmental management endorsed boating safety course, and/or alcohol or drug treatment for the individual.

(e)(1) Every person convicted of a second violation of subdivision (c)(1) of this section within a five (5) year period whose blood alcohol level is eight one-hundredths of one percent (.08%) but less than fifteen hundredths of one percent (.15%) by weight, or whose blood alcohol level is unknown, or who is convicted of a second violation of subdivision (c)(2) of this section regardless of whether the prior violation and subsequent conviction was a violation and subsequent conviction under this statute or under the boating under the influence of liquor or drugs statute of any other state, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to a mandatory fine of four hundred dollars ($400). The person's right to operate a watercraft shall be suspended for a period of one year to two (2) years, and the individual shall be sentenced to not less than ten (10) days nor more than one year in jail. The sentence may be served in any unit of the adult correctional institutions in the discretion of the sentencing judge; however, not less than forty-eight (48) hours of imprisonment shall be served consecutively. The sentencing judge may require alcohol or drug treatment for the individual.

(2) Every person convicted of a second violation of subdivision (c)(1) of this section within a five (5) year period whose blood alcohol level is fifteen hundredths of one percent (.15%) or more by weight, or who is under the influence of a drug, toluene, or any controlled substance, regardless of whether the prior violation and subsequent conviction was a violation and subsequent conviction under this statute or under the boating under the influence of liquor or drugs statute of any other state, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to mandatory imprisonment of not less than six (6) months nor more than one year, a mandatory fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000), and a mandatory suspension of that person's right to operate a watercraft for a period of two (2) years from the date of completion of the sentence imposed under this subsection. The sentence may be served in any unit of the adult correctional institution in the discretion of the sentencing judge; however, not less than forty-eight (48) hours of imprisonment shall be served consecutively. The sentencing judge may require alcohol or drug treatment for the individual.

(f)(1) Every person convicted of a third or subsequent violation of subdivision (c)(1) of this section within a five (5) year period whose blood alcohol level is eight one hundredths of one percent (.08%) but less than fifteen hundredths of one percent (.15%) by weight, or whose blood alcohol level is unknown, or who is convicted of a third or subsequent violation of subdivision (c)(2) of this section, regardless of whether any prior violation and subsequent conviction was a violation and subsequent conviction under this statute or under the boating under the influence of liquor or drugs statute of any other state shall be guilty of a felony and be subject to a mandatory fine of four hundred dollars ($400). The person's right to operate a watercraft shall be suspended for a period of two (2) years to three (3) years, and the individual shall be sentenced to not less than one year and not more than three (3) years in jail. The sentence may be served in any unit of the adult correctional institutions in the discretion of the sentencing judge; however, not less than forty-eight (48) hours of imprisonment shall be served consecutively. The sentencing judge shall require alcohol or drug treatment for the individual.

(2) Every person convicted of a third or subsequent violation of subdivision (c)(1) of this section within a five (5) year period whose blood alcohol level is fifteen hundredths of one percent (.15%) or more by weight or who is under the influence of a drug, toluene, or any controlled substance, regardless of whether any prior violation and subsequent conviction was a violation and subsequent conviction under this statute or under the boating under the influence of liquor or drugs statute of any other state, or who is convicted of a violation of subsection (b) of this section, shall be guilty of a felony and shall be subject to mandatory imprisonment of not less than three (3) years nor more than five (5) years, a mandatory fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) nor more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) and a mandatory suspension of that person's right to operate a watercraft for a period of three (3) years from the date of completion of the sentence imposed under this subsection. The sentence may be served in any unit of the adult correctional institution in the discretion of the sentencing judge; however, not less than forty-eight (48) hours of imprisonment shall be served consecutively. The sentencing judge shall require alcohol or drug treatment for the individual.

(3) In addition to the foregoing penalties, every person convicted of a third or subsequent violation of subdivision (c)(1) of this section within a five (5) year period regardless of whether any prior violation and subsequent conviction was a violation and subsequent conviction under this statute or under the boating under the influence of liquor or drugs statute of any other state shall be subject, in the discretion of the sentencing judge, to having the watercraft owned and operated by a violator seized and sold by the state of Rhode Island, with all funds obtained thereby to be transferred to the general fund.

(g) Any person over the age of eighteen (18) who is convicted under this section for operating or otherwise driving any watercraft in waters over which the state has jurisdiction while under the influence of alcohol, a drug, toluene or any controlled substance, while a child under the age of thirteen (13) was present as a passenger in the watercraft when the offense was committed, may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than one year and further shall not be entitled to the benefit of suspension or deferment of this sentence. The sentence imposed under this subsection may be served in any unit of the adult correctional institutions in the discretion of the sentencing judge.

(h) In addition to any other fines, any person convicted of a violation under this section shall pay a boating safety assessment fine of five hundred dollars ($500), which shall be deposited into the general fund. The assessment fine provided for by this subsection shall be collected from a violator before any other fines authorized by this section.

(i) Any person who operates or otherwise drives any watercraft in waters over which this state has jurisdiction after he or she has been ordered not to operate a watercraft under the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to a fine of at least four hundred dollars ($400), shall be required to perform thirty (30) to sixty (60) hours of public community restitution, and/or shall be imprisoned for up to one year. The person's right to operate a watercraft shall be suspended for an additional period of one to two (2) years.

(j)(1) If the person convicted of violating this section is under the age of eighteen (18) years, for the first violation he or she shall be required to perform ten (10) to sixty (60) hours of public community restitution, and the juvenile's right to operate a watercraft shall be suspended for a period of forty-five (45) days, and may be suspended for a period of up to six (6) months. The sentencing judge shall also require attendance at a department of environmental management endorsed boating safety course, and substance and alcohol or drug education and/or treatment for the juvenile.

(2) If the person convicted of violating this section is under the age of eighteen (18) years, for a second or subsequent violation, regardless of whether any prior violation and subsequent conviction was a violation and subsequent under this statute or under the boating under the influence of liquor or drugs statute of any other state, he or she shall be subject to a mandatory suspension of his or her right to operate a watercraft until such time as he or she is twenty-one (21) years of age and may, in the discretion of the sentencing judge, also be sentenced to the Rhode Island training school for a period of not more than one year and/or a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500).

(k) Jurisdiction for violations of this section shall be with the district court for persons eighteen (18) years of age or older and to the family court for persons under the age of eighteen (18) years. The courts shall have full authority to impose any sentence authorized and to order the suspension of the right to operate watercraft for violations of this section. All trials in the district court and family court of violations of the section shall be scheduled within thirty (30) days of the arraignment date. No continuance or postponement shall be granted except for good cause shown. Any continuances that are necessary shall be granted for the shortest practicable time. Trials in superior court are not required to be scheduled within thirty (30) days of the arraignment date.

(l) No fines, suspensions, assessments, alcohol or drug treatment programs, boating safety course, public community restitution or jail provided for under this section can be suspended.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1991, ch. 148, § 1; P.L. 1991, ch. 231, § 1; P.L. 1994, ch. 257, § 1; P.L. 2001, ch. 131, § 2; P.L. 2001, ch. 161, § 2; P.L. 2008, ch. 103, § 1.)