Operating Motorized Watercraft Under the Influence (OUI): A.R.S. 5-395

Boating can lead to an OUI if you're not careful.

Operating a Motorized Watercraft Under the Influence (OUI)

In Arizona, the safety standards for operating a watercraft are nearly as stringent as those for driving a motor vehicle. What most people refer to as “Boating Under the Influence” is actually called an “OUI” or Operating Under the Influence. While very similar to a DUI (Driving Under the Influence), it has some very distinct differences. For instance, this charge is not considered a moving violation so it does not suspend your motor vehicle driver’s license.

A.R.S. 5-395 (found here) outlines the unlawful operation of motorized watercraft while under the influence, addressing various circumstances related to intoxication and substance use. Key provisions of this statute are as follows:

Operation or Control Under the Influence: It is illegal for any individual to operate or be in control of a motorized watercraft while:

  1. Under the influence of intoxicating liquor, drugs, vapor releasing substances containing toxic elements, or any combination that impairs them, even to the slightest degree.
  2. Possessing an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of operating the watercraft, regardless of when the alcohol was consumed. “Alcohol concentration” is defined as grams of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of blood or grams of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of breath.
  3. Having any defined drug or its metabolite in their body.
  4. Operating a commercial motorized watercraft with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more.

No Defense for Drug Use: Being entitled to use a drug under state laws is not a defense against a violation of this statute, however use of a prescribed drug by a licensed medical practitioner is not considered a violation of this statute.

Non-Dismissal of Charges: The state cannot dismiss charges under this section as part of a plea bargain or to pursue other offenses, unless there is insufficient legal or factual basis.

Allegation of Prior Convictions: In any prosecution, the state must allege all prior convictions under this section occurring within the past eighty-four months, unless insufficient legal or factual basis exists.

Blood and Breath Testing: Evidence of refusal to submit to a test is admissible in civil or criminal actions. A person must provide a sample of blood, urine, or another substance if requested by law enforcement for law enforcement purposes, and non-compliance is a class 1 misdemeanor. A duplicate breath test does not require sample collection or preservation if the person is given an opportunity for an additional test. The person being tested has the right to arrange for an additional test by a qualified individual.

Admissible Statements: Statements by the defendant regarding their operation of a watercraft involved in an accident resulting in injury or death are admissible without further proof.

Jury Trial: Defendants have the right to request a trial by jury, which the court must grant.

Possible Charges: Conviction of an OUI in Arizona is a class 1 misdemeanor, while an aggravated OUI (3rd misdemeanor OUI or an OUI with a person under age 15 onboard) is a felony. This can lead to:

  1. Jail of at least 30 days with no parole, up to two years, depending on the charges involved.
  2. Fines ranging from $1200 to over $3000.
  3. Classes, treatment, or screenings for alcohol abuse.

Having an attorney represent you in your OUI case will allow for a seasoned look into your particular incident to determine if the sobriety tests were done properly, whether there was probable cause to stop you, or if involuntary statements were made, among other elements.



With offices in Lake Havasu City and Scottsdale, our firm serves the entire state of Arizona, with a particular focus on criminal defense, family law, and juvenile cases.

Our goal is for the best outcome for your criminal case, which can include:

  • charges that are reduced or dropped.
  • top experts reviewing your case.
  • aggressive negotiations with the prosecution for plea bargains.
  • fines or probation in lieu of jail time.

At Rideout Law Group, our attorneys are able to expertly examine the evidence in your case to provide a strong strategy for argument that leads to an outcome that is most favorable to you. We have experience in all types of criminal cases for both adults and juveniles, with positive outcomes both in plea negotiations as well as jury trial settings.

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