What is BUI?
BUI stands for Boating Under the Influence and though it may sound funny, it is a serious offense. Many people are unaware that drinking and boating is a crime and can lead to serious consequences. Under the Harbors and Navigation Code Section 655 Operation of Vessel, “No person shall operate any vessel or manipulate water skis, an aquaplane, or a similar device while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, any drug, or the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug”. This means that you can be arrested for drunk boating the same as you can be for drunk driving. This law applies to drivers of any type of motorized water vessel including the following:
- Water skis
- An aquaplane
- A Boat
- A Ship
- A Sailboat
- A Jet ski
BUI Laws in California
The BAC limit for operating a personal watercraft is the same as a vehicle, .08% for people over the age of 21. If you are operating a non-recreational water vehicle, the BAC limit is .04%. The United States Coast Guard will make the arrest the same as police makes DUI arrests and the BUI process is very similar to the DUI arrest process. The officer will ask you to take sobriety tests and then evaluate you for BUI. You can be asked to take a field sobriety test which requires you to perform a physical task like standing on one leg or walking in a straight line or you could be asked to take a breathalyzer test. Just like with a DUI stop, you can refuse to take these tests unless they are covered under implied consent laws. If you fail these tests, you will be arrested and taken to jail.
California Aggravated BUI
Just as DUI has a law that applies to an offense that causes injury, so does BUI. The Harbors and Navigation Code Section 655(f) states:
No person shall operate any vessel or manipulate water skis, an aquaplane, or a similar device while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, any drug, or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug, and while so operating, do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in the use of the vessel, water skis, aquaplane, or similar device, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than himself or herself.
If you cause a serious injury due to making an error while operating a watercraft and you are found to be intoxicated, you will face charges for aggravated BUI.
California BUI Penalties
A BUI arrest will require a suspect to appear in court just like a DUI charge. If you are convicted of BUI, you will face penalties depending on the circumstances of your case.
First time BUI Offenders face:
- Six months of jail
- $1,000 in fines
- California DUI Education Classes
Repeat BUI Offenders face:
- One year of jail
- $1,000 in fines
- 18 or 30 months of California
DUI Education Aggravated BUI Offenders face:
- 90 days – 1 year in county jail or 2-3 years in state prison
- $250-$500 in fines
- California DUI Education Classes if granted probation
Unlike DUI cases, prior offenses only count if they were convicted within the last 7 years. Also, when a person is arrested for suspicion of BUI, the DMV cannot suspend their license. In addition, a BUI conviction counts on your criminal record so that any further BUI or DUI arrests will be charged as second offenses.
BUI Defense Attorney
The Coast Guard looks to crack down on boaters who have been drinking. The good news is you have defense options. We can help you fight your BUI charges and get great results. Our attorneys have a deep understanding of BUI law. We will go over your case and look for areas of weakness. To lose a BUI case, two thing must be proven:
- That you were operating a water vehicle
- That you were intoxicated by drugs or alcohol
For many BUI cases the biggest piece of evidence the prosecution has against you is the results of your sobriety tests. If those results can be challenged, there will be no way to prove that you were intoxicated.
We are dedicated to fighting for the rights of our clients. Our legal team is made up of attorneys from all walks of life. Among our ranks we have former police officers, former district attorneys and more. We use our collective experiences to view your case from all angles. Sometimes a case requires a little creativity in order to build a strong defense. If you have been arrested for BUI in California and are serious about fighting your charges, call us right now for a free consultation. A knowledgeable attorney will listen to your case and explain your options to you. You have nothing to lose by calling us and there is no obligation, so call now.