Law Offices of Erik Steven Johnson

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Boating Under the Influence Charges in California

Posted on in DUI

San Jose boating under the influence attorneyWith California’s year-round mild weather, it is no surprise that nearly four million people enjoy recreational boating in the state each year. Unfortunately, dangerous boating accidents can occur, and nearly 25 percent of all motorboat-related fatalities involve alcohol in some way. California has laws governing alcohol use and consumption while you are aboard boats, much like the laws governing motor vehicles. Charges of boating under the influence (BUI) are similar to DUI charges, and an arrest can affect your driver’s license privileges, which is why it is important to respond to BUI charges as soon as possible.

Harbors & Navigation Code 655

California law states that no person shall operate a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This means that not only are you prohibited from using motor boats while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, but you are also prohibited from using:

  • Sailboats with a motor
  • Jet skis
  • Water skis
  • Tubes being pulled by a vessel
  • Aquaplanes

If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 percent or more, or if there is evidence that you were impaired by drugs or alcohol, regardless of your BAC, you can be charged with BUI. Unlike motor vehicles, there is no open container law for boats, meaning others on your boat can be drinking alcohol as long as the driver is not.

Penalties for BUI

Operating a boat or other vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is charged as a misdemeanor and carries a possible jail sentence of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. If you operate a boat or other vessel while under the influence, and you cause injury to another person, courts can charge the crime as a felony, which could carry one year in prison, a fine up to $5,000, or both. If the injury results in a death, the crime is automatically charged as a felony and carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.  

Contact a San Jose DUI Defense Lawyer

Boating can be fun, but if you are caught operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol, you can face serious penalties. If you have been arrested and charged with DUI or BUI, you need the immediate help of an experienced Santa Clara County DUI defense attorney. DUI and BUI charges are serious and can have major implications for your future and your driving privileges. Contact the Law Offices of Erik Steven Johnson to discuss your options and determine your best options for keeping your record clean and minimizing the consequences to your driver’s license and your daily life. To schedule a free consultation, call our office at 408-246-3004.


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