The weather is warming up here in sunny California…not that it ever really got cold or stormy. In any event, the weather is perfect to hit the water in a boat. Unfortunately, many people who take to their watercrafts think that it’s okay to toss back a few drinks first or even while boating.
Boating under the influence, however, is treated in very much the same way a DUI is treated here in California.
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.
In addition to running the risk of getting arrested, charged and convicted, boaters need to also realize the danger to themselves and others when boating under the influence. There are no lanes, no rules of the road, just open water.