California DUI Boating
(Boating Under the Influence of Alcohol)
Also known as boating under the influence, boating DUI, BUI, DUI boating, or drunk boating, boating under the influence can happen in a lake, a river, or on the ocean. Operating a boat or any watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (at or above a blood-alcohol concentration, or BAC of .08%) is much like driving a vehicle while under the influence: it is a criminal offense in the state of California.
The Harbors and Navigation Code does not bar passengers or the operator of a boat or watercraft from drinking alcohol or carrying open containers in the vessel. Aside from this fact, a BUI offense is almost identical to the California Vehicle Code's explanation of operating a car or truck with a BAC at or above .08%. The details of the regulation can be found in California Harbors and Navigation Code Section 655:
The symptoms that primarily attract officers to the boats, and the procedures that follow are very similar to DUI cases. Such symptoms include:
- Right-of-way violations
- Equipment violations (life preservers or navigation lights)
- Lack of current visible registration
- Erratic driving of the watercraft
Section 655.4(a) of the Harbors and Navigation Code states:
The consequences and defenses for a BUI are much like those of a DUI, however they are not identical. In short, fines, a jail sentence and probation will ensue. (Refer to California Harbors and Navigation Code section 655) Also, a lesser offense with lighter punishments is a possibility for plea bargaining.
One key fact to note: a conviction for DUID is "priorable". In other words, if you are charged with a DUI in the future (the following 10 years), a DUID will be regarded as a prior conviction. This means that if you are arrested sometime between now and 10 years from now, the court will view you as a repeat offender. The consequences for a second offense are much harsher that those of a first offense.