California's Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Laws and Penalties

Read about the consequences—including possible jail time and fines—of boating under the influence (BUI) in California.

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.

BUI Penalties

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:

  • First offense. For a first BUI, or where all priors BUI and DUI convictions were at least seven years ago, the court can impose up six months in jail and $1,000 in fines. As a condition of probation, the court can order the offender to complete a substance abuse education or treatment program.
  • Repeat offense. Where a BUI offender has a least one prior BUI or DUI conviction that occurred within the past seven years, the court can impose up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines. As a condition of probation, the court can order the offender to participate in substance abuse treatment for at least 18 or 30 months.

Generally, whether a first or repeat offense, a BUI is going to be a misdemeanor.

Boater Safety Courses

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.

Talk to an Attorney

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.

Protect Yourself. Talk to a Lawyer About Your Case

Enter Your Zip Code to Connect with a Lawyer Serving Your Area

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
FACING A DUI?

Talk to a DUI Defense attorney

We've helped 115 clients find attorneys today.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you