Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Punishment

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California Criminal Law – Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Punishment

Boating is an activity that many people engage in for fun and recreation. Amidst all the fun and the sunshine, some people fail to understand that it is illegal to operate a boat under the influence of alcohol. The problem is that when alcohol and boating mix, people can get injured. Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a criminal offense that carries serious punishment for guilty offenders. The punishment can include jail time, alcohol education classes, fines, and other penalties. A qualified California DUI / DWI attorney is capable of handling cases involving boating under the influence.

The California Harbors and Navigation Code provides the laws that relate to boating under the influence. Being under the influence is defined as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent for a recreational vessel and .04 percent for a commercial craft. The statute sets a zero-tolerance policy for watercraft such as aquaplanes and water skis. The zero-tolerance policy means that any trace of alcohol is illegal when operating these types of watercraft.

Boating under the influence may be a lot more dangerous than driving a car under the influence of drugs or alcohol, because people drive cars every day and are well practiced at it. When it comes to boating however, many people might drive a boat a couple of times a year. Such a person is far from an expert boat operator. For that same person to be drunk and boating is extremely dangerous.

Boating under the influence is most commonly charged as a misdemeanor. As such it is punishable by up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. When a BUI results in an injury to another person, it can be charged as a felony. A BUI felony can carry a penalty of one year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs and causing death to another person is a felony that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Just as in cases of driving a car, a person convicted of boating under the influence may also be required by the court to take boating safety courses and alcohol education classes.

In California, boaters under the age of 21 are not allowed to consume any alcohol at all. A person under 21 with a BAC of .01 percent or more cannot even use water skis. A BAC of .01 percent to .05 percent in a boater under 21 is an infraction, with penalties similar to a traffic ticket.

Just like drivers in ordinary vehicles, boaters are subject to California’s Implied Consent Law. This law requires a person who has been arrested for driving or boating under the influence to submit to a chemical test. Refusing to submit to the chemical test can carry additional penalties.

Because the penalties in a BUI / BWI case can be so severe, it’s extremely important to have competent, aggressive legal representation. A California criminal defense lawyer with experience defending boating under the influence cases can fight the charges and keep negative consequences to a minimum.

Darren Kavinoky
Darren Kavinoky
Founder at 1-800-NoCuffs
Darren Kavinoky is the founder of 1.800.NoCuffs–The Kavinoky Law Firm and is known as an award-winning criminal defense attorney.

The American Trial Lawyers Association has named him one of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in California” each year since 2007. Los Angeles magazine has identified Darren as a “SuperLawyer” every year since 2010. Darren received an “AV Preeminent Rating” by Martindale-Hubbell (a peer review ranking that signals the highest level of professional excellence and ethics); a perfect 10.0 Rating by (an independent attorney ranking site), and many other accolades.