The weather is warming up in Phoenix which means surrounding lakes are filling up with valley residents looking for a place to cool down. Valley lakes are a popular place for residents to recreate and take part in water activities, including boating, jet skiing, fishing, paddle boarding, beach side barbecuing, hiking and just enjoying the scenery. A popular lake for east valley residents is Saguaro Lake which is just northeast of Mesa and easy to access from Scottsdale and Phoenix as well. If you are headed out to Saguaro Lake, situated in the Tonto National Forest, you will need to purchase a daily pass to display in your vehicle ($6) plus a watercraft use fee ($4) for each watercraft you are taking out on the lake. These passes are not sold at the lake so be sure to purchase them beforehand either online or at various retail outlets on your way out to the lake. Additionally, if you plan to fish, be sure to check out fishing license requirements before heading out to the lake as well.
Finally, if you plan to consume alcohol during your outing at the lake, always be sure to designate a sober driver for boats and other motorized watercraft as well as for the drive back home. A fun day at the lake can quickly turn sour if you are arrested for a boating DUI, or more specifically – an OUI (Operating Under the Influence). If you are arrested for OUI on Saguaro Lake, the arresting agency will likely be the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) – Lake Patrol Unit, and you will likely be cited into the North Mesa Justice Court (for misdemeanor OUI charges) or the Maricopa County Superior Court (for felony OUI charges). If you are facing OUI charges, they are treated very similar to a regular DUI, and it is imperative to seek competent legal counsel before making any decisions in your case.
Misdemeanor OUI Charges
According to Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) § 5-395, It is unlawful to operate or be in actual physical control of a motorized watercraft under any of the following circumstances:
- While under the influence of liquor, drugs or vapor releasing substances if the person is impaired to the slightest degree.
- If a person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of operating or being in actual physical control (APC) of the motorized watercraft and the alcohol was consumed either before or while operating or being in actual physical control of a motorized watercraft.
- While there are drugs (or drug metabolites) in the person's body.
- If the motorized watercraft is a commercial motorized watercraft and the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more.
Penalties for OUI Misdemeanor charges:
1st Offense OUI (BAC 0.080-0.149%) Possibility of 10 days in jail (may be suspended upon completion of alcohol/drug screening/treatment program and a finding of non-reckless operation of the watercraft), minimum fees & fines of $1,250, and possible community work service and probation.
1st Offense Extreme OUI (BAC 0.150-0.199%) Possibility of 30 days in jail (all but 10 days may be suspended upon completion of alcohol/drug screening/treatment program), minimum fees & fines of $2,500, possible community work service and probation.
1st Offense Super Extreme OUI (BAC 0.200% or greater) Mandatory 45 days in jail, minimum fees & fines of $2,750, possible community work service and probation.
Penalties are increasingly harsher if you have prior OUI convictions, or if other aggravating circumstances exist in your case. Please consult an attorney to discuss the specific penalties relevant to your circumstances.
Felony OUI Charges
An OUI will be charged as a felony under the following circumstances, ARS § 5-396:
- If it is a third or subsequent OUI charge within a period of 84-months (Class 4 Felony).
- The person is charged with an OUI and a person under 15-years of age is on the watercraft (Class 6 Felony).
Penalties for Aggravated (felony) OUI charges:
Aggravated DUI (Third charge within 84-months) Minimum 4 months in Arizona Department of Corrections (prison), alcohol or drug screening, counseling and education, and minimum fines of $4,000.
Aggravated DUI (Minor child under 15- years of age on watercraft) minimum jail time tracks that of 1st offense OUI charges, alcohol or drug screening, counseling and education, and minimum fines of $4,000.
Penalties are increasingly harsher if you have more than 2 prior convictions within an 84-month period, or if other aggravating circumstances exist in your case. Please consult an attorney to discuss the specific penalties relevant to your circumstances.
Please contact the Firm today if you are facing OUI charges and speak with a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist who will discuss the possible defenses and legal options in resolving your OUI case. Mr. Buckallew has handled OUI cases throughout Maricopa County as well as many other criminal boating violations, such as reckless operation of a watercraft, and he has significant experience in litigating a wide variety of criminal cases including OUI and boating related violations.
**This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact the Firm to schedule a consultation regarding your case.