BUI

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Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Lawyer

In California, the law makes it illegal to operate a boat under the influence of alcohol, just like it does with a vehicle on the roadways.

Our firm has handled BUI cases in Orange County (from Newport Harbor), and in San Bernardino County (from Lake Havasu, and the Colorado River).

Boating Under the Influence Laws:

California Harbors & Navigation Code 655 is the Boating Under the Influence (BUI) statute. Specifically, Harbors and Navigation Code 655b states that you may not operate a boat, water skis, an aquaplane, or
any similar equipment (such as a jet ski), while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

The law distinguishes between those that are recreational adults, and those that are minors.

For adults, boating for recreational purposes, the legal limit is a .08% for use of any water craft. That means that if tested, you may not have above a .08% blood alcohol content level to boat in California.

Under California law, boaters under 21 are not allowed to consume any alcohol at all. A person under 21 with a BAC of .01 percent or more cannot even use water skis. A BAC of .01 percent to .05 percent in a boater under 21 is an infraction, with penalties similar to a traffic ticket. For a boater under 21 that has a blood alcohol level above a .05% (that is, at a 0.06% or above), the charge is a misdemeanor.

If you operate a commercial boat (a tour boat, fishing boat, etc.), then the legal limit is 0.04% BAC for commercial operators.

Just like in a car, police have to have probable cause for believing that a boater or skier is violating the law in some way. (The most common way of determining probable cause, statistically, is from a boating accident).

Law enforcement then typically will do field sobriety testing, which is difficult on a boat for various reasons. Finally, a suspects alcohol level will be determined by either testing the boater’s breath or blood. By operating a vessel on California waters, you have consented to be tested for alcohol and/or drugs if arrested by a law enforcement official. Just like with vehicle cases on the roadway, there are many ways to challenge breath or blood tests.

The effects of boating under the influence is nearly identical to a DUI or drunk driving charge, and if you are convicted of BUI, you face serious criminal consequences including probation, mandatory classes, potential jail or prison sentencing, heavy fines and a driver’s license suspension upon conviction.

The U.S. Guard reports that BUI incidents increase boating fatalities by approximately thirty-four (34%) percent so law enforcement is looking to cite those that may be under the influence.

If you need help from a defense firm that has experience in handling and fighting or defending BUI cases, contact our firm. We can help you.

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