Boats, Planes and Bikes

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Boating, flying and bicycling under the influence are separate offenses under California law. Each offense carries significant consequences, but can be successfully challenged by a California defense attorney who is well-versed in defending DUI /charges involving motorcycles, vessels, aircraft and bicycles. Challenging DUI cases involving motorcycles, vessels, aircraft and bicycles can be done in much the same way as cases for driving cars under the influence of alcohol or drugs while intoxicated can be challenged.

The California Vehicle Code defines a vehicle as “a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.” This definition encompasses automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, scooters, and bulldozers.

Motorcycling under the influence, for most purposes, is the same thing as a DUI case for drunk driving in a car. The case will be prosecuted pursuant to the same statutes. There will be a criminal case, and an administrative hearing at the DMV. A California defense attorney for DUI can handle both situations. If the motorcyclist fails to request a DMV hearing within 10 days (including weekends and holidays), the Department of Motor Vehicles will begin the process of suspending the license.

The standard of proof at the DMV hearing is the preponderance of the evidence. To find the defendant guilty, a judge must find that the arrest was lawful and that the motorcyclist had a BAC of .08 percent or higher.

Court punishments for the motorcyclist convicted of driving under the influence are the same as the punishments for those who are convicted of driving cars under the influence of alcohol. Those punishments include jail time, fines, alcohol education classes, the ignition interlock device, and probation.


Boating under the influence, or BUI / BWI, is governed by California’s Harbors and Navigation Code. Under the code, a person is considered too impaired to operate a recreational vessel with a BAC of .08 percent or greater. The standard is .04 percent for operating a commercial vessel. Individuals using aquaplanes and water skis and similar crafts are not allowed to have ingested any alcohol at all. A zero-tolerance policy is in effect for all such crafts.

A person convicted for boating under the influence can face penalties including jail time and fines. A California defense lawyer can effectively limit the consequences of a BUI / BWI conviction.


Flying an aircraft under the influence of alcohol or drugs (FUI / FWI) is a serious crime. This applies to both commercial and private airplanes. Flying under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be charged as a federal and/or state crime. Pilots who fly under the influence can be charged under federal and/or state law.

Crew members of civil aircraft are governed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA rules stipulate that no-one may serve as a crew member if he or she has consumed alcohol within eight hours of a flight. Furthermore, anyone with a BAC of .04% or greater, or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol may not serve as a crew member. These over-inclusive rules indicate the seriousness with which the FAA looks upon flying under the influence. A person found violating these strict rules faces imprisonment, fines, and revocation of his or her pilot’s license.

Pilots of civil aircraft are subject to the implied Consent Law. This means that any pilot who has been arrested on suspicion of flying under the influence of alcohol or drugs must submit to a chemical test or face large fines and license suspension or revocation.

Pilots also face possible licensing issues for DUI convictions. All convictions for drunk driving must be reported on a pilot’s first-class medical application as well as to the Civil Action Security Division that is located in Oklahoma City. The relevant agencies will look harshly upon such DUI convictions.

A conviction for cycling under the influence (CUI) can result in a fine of $250. There is no jail time or license suspension. Technically, a bicycle is not a vehicle, and the dangers of cycling drunk are considerably less than driving a vehicle while intoxicated. Therefore, the Vehicle Code does not cover cycling under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, the Vehicle Code does state that it is unlawful to ride a bicycle on the highway while under the influence. One common challenge to a CUI is that the bicycle-rider was on a private road or driveway instead of a “highway.”

Charges of riding a motorcycle, boating, flying or riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs can carry harsh consequences. However, a skilled California defense attorney with experience defending BUI, motorcycling under the influence, FUI / FWI, and CUI cases can successfully challenge these offenses in court and can achieve results that limit the penalties and consequences associated with the charges.

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.