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BUI - Boating Under the Influence

It is illegal to operate any motor vehicle with a BAC of over .08%, including boats (VC 23153, H&N C. 655). Cases involving drunk boating are often difficult for prosecution for a variety reasons. Unlike a car or motorcycle, a driver can simply walk away from the controls of a boat, making it difficult to prove exactly who was driving. Another issue is who has jurisdiction in those waters (Pen. C. 853.1), and whether or not the arresting officer correctly handled the investigation.

If convicted of a DUI while operating a boat (H&N 655(b) or (c)), the defendant can receive up to 6 months in jail, up to $5000 in fines and fees, a boat safety course (H&N 668.1 and 668.3), and in some cases involving probation, an alcohol education course. However, if this conviction is within ten years of a previous DUI conviction (of either H&N 655(b)(c)(d) or (e), CVC 23152 or 23153, or P.C. 191.5 or 192.5(a)) the punishments can be dramatically increased. Under this circumstance, the defendant convicted of a misdemeanor may receive up to one year in jail, and, in cases where probation is granted, and 18- or 30-month alcohol education course.

One key point is that a drunk boating offense cannot be the sole cause of a suspension of your driver’s license from the DMV. However, if your license is already suspended, a drunk boating offense can lengthen that suspension (section 23620).

If there is an accident that results in an injury to someone other than the driver (H&N 655(f)), the defendant can be charged with a felony and receive greater punishments. They could receive 16 months, 2 or 3 years in a state prison or 90 days to one year in a county jail. The fine can be anywhere from $250-$5000.

If you or someone you know is accused of operating a boat or vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs or both you should contact the skilled BUI (Boating under the Influence) attorneys at DrunkDriverLaw. Our attorneys are uniquely positioned and possess the experience and knowledge to assist in defending against these serious, life-changing charges. Call us immediately for a free consultation and more information on how we can help to get these charges reduced or possibly even dismissed. 


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