California law prohibits operating a vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Generally, the term “vessel” means all watercraft, including motorboats, sailboats, and jet skis. A person can be convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) for operating a vessel while:
In other words, a BUI can be based on actual impairment or the amount of alcohol in the boater's system.
California BUI penalties depend on whether the offender has a prior BUI or driving under the influence (DUI) conviction within the past seven years. The consequences for a first and repeat-offense BUI are:
Generally, whether a first or repeat offense, a BUI is going to be a misdemeanor.
All boaters convicted of a BUI involving a “mechanically propelled vessel”—a watercraft equipped with a motor—must complete a boater safety course approved by the California Department of Boating and Waterways within six months of their conviction.
If you’ve been arrested for or charged with boating under the influence in California, get in contact with an experienced BUI attorney. The facts of every case are different. A good BUI attorney should be able to explain how California BUI law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide the best course of action.