Almost a year ago, a man drove his boat into the Figure Eight Island Bridge damaging the bridge, and injuring several of his passengers. James Yost was found guilty of driving his boat drunk. According to wildlife officers he had a blood alcohol level of more than three times the legal limit. Judge Rebecca Blackmore sentenced Yost to three years unsupervised probation, and ordered him to pay restitution for his uninsured victims. But, the story is making headlines again because he's asked for a new trial to be heard before a jury in superior court. As we head into prime boating season, a lot of people may be wondering what regulations apply to boating while impaired. Depending on who issues the violation, the Coast Guard or North Carolina Wildlife, the penalties can be different, and so can the actual laws. If you drive your boat impaired the Coast Guard can give you a citation or arrest you for boating under the influence. If you drive your boat recklessly, like speeding through a no wake zone, they can give you a citation for negligent operation. The violations can lead to a fine of up to $5,000. And as for how much alcohol a boater can consume, Matthew Rogers, US Coast Guard, said, "The legal limit is .08. There's no open container law in boats like there are cars, so as long as you don't go above a .08 and operate your vessel on the water, you're fine -- As long as you're not driving in a negligent manner." Now, if you're caught boating while intoxicated by a Wildlife Resource Officer, the penalties are much more severe. They can penalize to the fullest extent of the law including jail time. The only difference between this and a DWI in your car is that a conviction would not affect your driver's license. One other note worth mentioning for boaters -- regardless of your blood alcohol level, hard liquor is not permitted to be on board your boat -- only beer and wine.
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