Can you get a DUI on a Kayak?

A lot of people simply see kayaking as a bit of fun. Kayaking generates all sorts of pleasant ideas: freedom, laughter, fun, and, inevitably, drinking alcohol.

When you’re having fun with your friends and trying to relax, there’s nothing better to go with it than an ice-cold beer or a nice, fresh glass of wine. But is drinking while you are responsible for a boat really a good idea? Well, that’s a good question. Most people would say it isn’t, but yet a lot of people still choose to drink while they are kayaking. But something that a lot of people don’t know is that you can, actually, get a DUI on a kayak.

In this guide we’re taking a look at all the specifics surrounding a DUI on a kayak, and other information you might want to know before you decide to pop open a bottle while you are on your kayak. 

Can you get a DUI on a Kayak?

As we have already said, yes you can get a DUI on a kayak. Many people are actually surprised that there are laws surrounding drinking alcohol on boats, but they are vehicles, so why should the laws be any different to those of cars?

In fact, when you take a look at the specifics surrounding drinking alcohol on a kayak, or any boat for that matter, you will find that they are very similar to the laws surrounding drinking and driving. In the majority of States, it is illegal to navigate a kayak once your blood alcohol level exceeds a certain percentage. In most States this percentage is 0.08%, but in Wyoming and Colorado it is slightly higher at 0.10%.

This law isn’t specific to the USA, and you will find that most countries across the world have specific laws surrounding drinking alcohol while being responsible for a boat, including New Zealand, Australia, the UK and Canada.

Of course, these laws will differ from country to country, but they all have one aim, and that is to restrict the amount of alcohol that you can drink while driving a boat.

Is it illegal to drink on a Kayak?

It is not illegal to drink alcohol on a kayak, but there are rules in place to restrict the amount of alcohol that you can drink while steering a boat of any size, kayaks included.

There are no specific laws or rules for drinking alcohol aboard a kayak, but a kayak is a type of boat, so the general rules and restrictions for boats will also apply to kayaks. So how much are you actually allowed to drink on a kayak before you break any rules?As we have said, in most States, the law is that you are not allowed to sail a boat once your blood alcohol level exceeds 0.08%. There are lots of different factors that impact blood alcohol level, but generally speaking a single alcoholic drink will cause your blood alcohol level to increase by 0.02%.

This means that your blood alcohol level will exceed the legal limit after approximately 4 alcoholic drinks. But remember that lots of things impact blood alcohol level, especially size and weight, so to stay within legal parameters it is best to drink less than 4 alcoholic beverages.

Boating Under the Influence vs Boating While Intoxicated

Before we go any further it is important that we establish that there is no such legal term as a ‘boat DUI’. Instead, if you are caught in charge of a boat with a blood alcohol level exceeding legal limits, then you will have completed the legal offense of boating under the influence or boating while intoxicated. So what are the differences between these two offenses?Well, technically, there are no real differences between boating under the influence (BUI) or boating while intoxicated (BWI). It is just a case of different States using different terminology, as both terms mean the same thing.

So if you are charged with boating under the influence or boating while intoxicated, you will have completed the same offense, and that is operating a vessel (boat) while under the influence of alcohol.

What is the fine for a Boat DUI?

If you should be caught boating under the influence, what can you expect to happen? Well that all depends on how many times you have been caught completing this offense before and the State that you complete the offense in, so let’s take a look at what might happen.The first time that you are caught boating under the influence is often considered a misdemeanor offense, and so the consequences are not too harsh. You could expect a fine of between $200 to $1000, or 30 days jail time for completing this offense, depending on the State that you are using your kayak in. If you complete the same offense a second time then this is also usually classed as a misdemeanor. But, the punishment for completing this does go up, with fines usually increasing to between $500-2000, and jail time increasing to 6 months instead of 30 days. After the first two offenses, if you should be caught boating under the influence again, you will be considered a repeat offender and the punishment increases significantly.

You will find that the fine will often increase to between $1000 and $3000, and the jail time could go up to anywhere between 3 months and 2 years. As well as the fine, and the prison sentence, if you get caught boating under the influence you could have your boating license revoked, be required to serve community service, or enrol in an alcohol education program. So it is important that you know the rules before you decide to drink any alcohol on your kayak.


So, technically, you cannot get a DUI on a kayak, but you can get a BUI or a BWI which are pretty much the same thing.

So next time you consider having an alcohol drink while out on your kayak, think about your blood alcohol levels and whether they exceed legal limits.

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