Penalties for Boating Under the Influence (California Harbors and Navigation Code 655)
December 6, 2018

Most people know that they can be convicted of a crime for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, many people do not realize that it is also illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If you operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you could face charges of boating under the influence under California Harbors and Navigations Code Section 655. Let’s take a closer look at this crime and the penalties for boating under the influence.

What water vessels are covered under BUI laws?

BUI laws under California Harbors and Navigation Code Section 655 apply to recreational and commercial vessels including:

  • Boats
  • Water skis
  • Aquaplanes; or
  • Any similar equipment such as a Jet Ski or sailboard

Under this law, it is illegal to operate a recreational water vessel with a blood-alcohol content level of 0.08% or higher and a commercial vessel with a BAC of 0.04% or higher.

What are the penalties for BUI?

A first offense BUI conviction is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail and fines up to $1,000. If you are convicted of a second or subsequent BUI within seven years, you could face up to 364 days in county jail and the same fine.

BUI causing injury is a wobbler offense, which means it could be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor BUI causing injury carries a sentence of up to 364 days in jail. A felony conviction is punishable by 16 months, 2 or 3 years in jail. You could also be fined up to $5,000 for a BUI causing injury conviction.

Additionally, you may be required to complete an alcohol and/or drug education program as part of your sentence for BUI.

Minors and BUI convictions

California has a “zero tolerance” policy for minors who commit BUI-related offenses. A minor under the age of 21 with a BAC of 0.01% or more is guilty of an infraction punishable as follows:

  • Up to a $100 fine for a first offense
  • Up to a $200 fine for a second offense within one year of a first violation; and
  • Up to a $250 fine for a third or subsequent offense within one year of any previous violations

Minors convicted of BUI may also have to complete a minimum of 12 hours of alcohol education in addition to the above fines.

Contact the BUI Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you or a loved one has been accused of operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you should speak with an experienced BUI defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers have been successfully defending clients facing BUI charges for more than 35 years. Let us help you now.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich BUI defense attorney available near you no matter where you are located.

Call our office today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

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