BUI – Boating Under the Influence


It’s that time again. Summer Solstice comes, summer begins, and, like clockwork, the heat-waves kick into high gear here in California. Many people beat the heat by taking to the waterways in their watercrafts. Unfortunately, many do so while drinking and raise their risk for a BUI. Yes, you heard me, not DUI, but BUI – boating under the influence.

California Harbors and Navigation Code section 655 states: 

(b) No person shall operate any vessel or manipulate water skis, an aquaplane, or a similar device while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, any drug, or the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug.

(c) No person shall operate any recreational vessel or manipulate any water skis, aquaplane, or similar device if the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more in his or her blood.

The Harbors and Navigation Code also provides a zero tolerance for aquaplanes and water skis.

What’s more, the penalties for boating under the influence in California are similar to those for a California DUI; up to six months in jail, up to $1,000 in fines and fees, and a California DUI school.

Unlike a California DUI, however, is that any prior boating under the influence or driving under the influence conviction will only enhance a boating under the influence charge if the prior conviction occurred within seven years. If you are charged with a California DUI, any California DUI or BUI that occurred in the last 10 years will increase the penalties of the current DUI.

Also, while the passengers of vehicles cannot drink alcohol within the vehicle under California open container laws, passengers of boats can legally drink alcohol on the boat.

Have fun, but be safe out there, boaters. There are no lanes or rules of the road like on land, just open water. Add alcohol to the mix and, not only is it extremely dangerous, but you’re running the risk of picking up a California BUI.

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