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Fatal Boating DWIs: A Legitimate Issue in North Carolina

Many people in North Carolina may be unaware that it is possible to get a DWI while driving virtually any vehicle. You do not necessarily need to be behind the wheel of a car in order to be charged with driving while intoxicated – and you can even get a DWI while riding your bike in the Tar Heel State. A recent case in North Carolina also highlights the potential for serious legal consequences when boating under the influence.

First-Ever Fatal Boating DWI in North Carolina

A North Carolina man recently made history for all the wrong reasons when he was convicted of a fatal boating DWI. It was the first time in the state’s history that anyone had ever been convicted of this particular offense – and it highlights North Carolina’s tough stance against anyone who chooses to operate a boat while intoxicated.

The investigation was led by North Carolina’s Wildlife Resources Commission, and it uncovered a gruesome incident that ended with not one, but three deaths. In 2020, the defendant was driving his boat on the Waccamaw River when he struck another watercraft. Five people were on board this boat, and two survived despite suffering injuries. Two of the deceased victims were just 21 years old. The defendant and his sole passenger were unharmed.

The defendant decided to plead guilty to three counts of Death by Impaired Boating – a relatively new law in North Carolina that is also known as “Sheyenne’s Law.” This led to a sentence of 9.5 to 18.5 years in prison. The investigation apparently took three years to complete.

What Is Sheyenne’s Law?

Sheyenne’s Law was passed in 2016, one year after the passing of Sheyenne Marshall. The 17-year-old died after being struck by an impaired boater on Lake Norman. Her family was incensed by the fact that the defendant only received a Class 2 misdemeanor charge for the fatal crash, and this exposed a strange loophole in North Carolina’s criminal justice system – which seemed to lack a penalty for killing someone while drunkenly operating a boat. As a result, the North Carolina General Assembly created new penalties for intoxicated boating and passed much stiffer penalties for these crimes in the future.

Although it has taken seven years for someone to actually be convicted under this law, it is something that every boater in the Tar Heel State needs to be aware of. That being said, the same general defense strategies for intoxicated driving may also apply to intoxicated boating. Speak with a defense attorney in North Carolina for more information.

Where Can I Find an Experienced DWI Attorney in North Carolina?

Whether you have been charged with a DWI for biking, driving, or boating, it always makes sense to get in touch with a qualified North Carolina defense attorney as soon as possible. As we have seen, the consequences of some DWIs can be incredibly serious, especially if people are injured in the crash. Book your consultation with Coastal South Law today to discuss the most appropriate defense strategy.

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