Boating Under the Influence in California

May 01, 2018 by Anastasiia Ponomarova in DUI  
Thumbnail for: Boating Under the Influence in California

Boating Under the Influence in California

A lot of people are unaware that boating under the influence in California is a crime and can lead to serious consequences. The California Harbors and Navigation Code Section 655 says:

  • No person shall operate any vessel or manipulate water skis, an aquaplane, or a similar device while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug.
  • No person shall operate any recreational vessel or manipulate any water skis, aquaplane, or similar device if the person has an alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more in his or her blood. This applies to: motor boats, sailboats with a motor, jet skis, water skiers, tubes being pulled by a motorboat, aquaplanes. Self-propelled boats such as kayaks and canoes are exempt.
  • No person shall operate any vessel other than a recreational vessel if the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or more in his or her blood. This means you can’t operate a commercial vessel such as fishing boats, sport fishing boats, tour boats or passenger ferries.

Boating Under the Influence in California (BUI) Penalties

The penalties for BUI depend on whether it is your first, second or third BUI in a 10-year period (including driving DUIs). Like other crimes in California, a BUI is considered a “wobbler”. This means that the offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, given the level of intoxication and the extent of damage or injury caused.

The penalties for a first BUI offense include:

  • Probation for 3 to 5 years
  • Losing your drivers license for 4 months or longer
  • Up to 6 months in a county jail
  • Up to $1,000 in fines, and/or
  • 3 or 9 month of court-approved DUI school

The penalties for repeat BUI offenses include:

  • Up to 1 year in a country jail
  • Up to $1,000 in fines, and/or
  • 18 or 30 months of mandatory substance abuse treatment or educational classes

These penalties can be increased if:

  • You refuse to submit to a chemical test after you are arrested (you are not required to take field tests before arrest)
  • You injure or kill someone as a result of your BUI
  • You commit a hit-and-run, or
  • You have a prior conviction (within the last 7 years) for either a DUI or BUI

Aggravated BUI

An aggravated crime increases its guilt or enormity, usually with injurious consequences. This is a far more serious charge that requires proof that you were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and while operating a marine craft, and you broke a law some other way (in addition to boating under the influence), or otherwise drove the vehicle in a negligent manner and caused injury or damage.

BUI Defenses

There are many options of defenses that a qualified attorney can provide for you if you faced with a boating under the influence. This include:

  • You were not under the influence
  • You were just tired from being in the sun and water
  • Your BAC chemical test was wrong. Or, your field sobriety test was improperly administered. (such as being on a wet or uneven surface)
  • Illegal stop or search
  • Failure to read you your Miranda rights, and/or
  • Failure to give clear procedures and requirements during tests

How Can Boaters Stay Safe on the Water?

The U.S. Coast Guard and local law enforcement agencies throughout California routinely patrol the region’s waters to look for boaters who are under the influence and other threats to public safety. Patrols are increased on weekends and holidays.

The Coast Guard also provides the following basic safety suggestions to everyone who owns or operates any boat or watercraft:

  • Never drink alcohol before you operate a boat or any watercraft. Alcohol reduces a person’s ability to see, hear and react to danger, and it also impairs judgment.
  • Always carry a fire extinguisher, flares, and a marine-band radio.
  • Always carry and use life jackets.
  • Always check a weather forecast before boating.

Every boater convicted of BUI in California must pass a boating safety course approved by California’s Department of Boating and Waterways.

We’re Here to Help

If you or your loved one has been arrested and charged with a BUI in California, exercise your constitutional rights and consult with a criminal defense lawyer experienced in boating under the influence cases.

Need a Criminal Defense Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529

Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 18 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.

Boating Under the Influence in California Read our Client Reviews

Contact Us:         
Esfandi Law Group QR Code
Esfandi Law Group
Lara S.
December 3, 2019
Seppi had my case reduced to just an infraction, and thanks to him I was able to keep my job. Jorge was extremely helpful too, the reason I went with this law firm. Overall pleased.

How to Win Your Case

We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

  1. Don’t ever talk to the police
  2. Do not discuss your case with anyone
  3. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
  4. Tell police you need to contact your attorney
  5. Never consent to any search by the police
  6. If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
  7. Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
  8. Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
  9. Information on your cell phone is evidence
  10. Early Intervention is the key

Get a Free Consultation

    Free Consultation Form