Boating and Alcohol Laws in Ohio

It is illegal for a person to operate or to be in physical control of any boat that is underway, or to manipulate any waterskis or similar device, if the person is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (including prescription drugs).

Boating and Alcohol Laws in Ohio

In Ohio, a person is considered to be under the influence if:

  • They have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 or higher.
  • A BAC of less than 0.08 is admissible in court along with other evidence of impairment to prove operating under the influence.
  • For persons under 21 years of age, it is an offense to operate a boat while having a BAC of 0.02 or more. Furthermore, it is an offense for persons under the age of 21 to purchase, possess, consume or be under the influence of alcohol.

In Ohio, a person convicted of operating a boat while under the influence will be subject to the following penalties:

Upon a first offense:

  • A minimum of 3 days in jail and a $150 fine.
  • A maximum of 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Upon a second offense:

  • A minimum of 10 days in jail and a $150 fine.
  • A maximum of 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Upon a third offense:

  • A minimum of 30 days in jail and a $150 fine.
  • A maximum of up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Incapacitated Operators Prohibited

No person shall operate any boat if unable physically or mentally to operate in a safe and competent manner. No person shall permit the operation of a boat that is in violation of this section.

Implied Consent

Any person operating a boat on Ohio waters is deemed to have given consent to a chemical test or tests of their blood, breath or urine to determine if they are impaired by drugs and/or alcohol.  Refusal to submit to testing can result in the revocation of the operator’s privilege to operate a boat or waterskis, or register a boat for a period of one year.