It can be tempting to have a drink or two while boating along San Diego’s gorgeous waterways. This is not an illegal practice in California, and many boaters enjoy a drink as they cruise the coastline. However, just as a person who has had too much to drink is not allowed while operating a motor vehicle, an intoxicated person is not permitted to drive a boat. This begs the question, how much drinking is too much?
California Laws and Penalties for Boating under the Influence
It is illegal to operate a vessel such as a boat or jet ski while under the influence of alcohol in California. Like driving a car, it is also against the law to operate a boat with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher. On a commercial vessel, the legal limit is only .04% BAC. One way that California’s boating under the influence laws differ from their driving counterparts is that open containers of alcohol are legal onboard boats.
Boating under the influence (BUI) penalties can depend on the boat driver’s specific situation and criminal history. Typically, a BUI is considered a misdemeanor with up to a $1,000 fine with a sentence between six months to one year in county jail. If a person was injured while someone was operating a boat under the influence, the penalties can be more severe and could even be considered a felony. If a boat driver is convicted of a felony, they could face up to three years in jail.
Defending against a Boating Under the Influence Charge in California
One defense for BUIs in California is that the boater may not have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If a sobriety test is administered, and the boat driver’s BAC was under .08%, an officer can still charge a boater with a BUI for unreasonable behavior. However, unreasonable behavior does not necessarily mean the boat driver was under the influence.
Another defense is that the initial stop of the boat was unlawful. Like driving a car, an officer cannot pull over and stop a boat for no apparent reason. The officer must suspect illegal activity to stop a boat. If a boat has been stopped unlawfully, it is possible that a BUI case could be dismissed.
Contact a Skilled San Diego Defense Attorney
While San Diego has some of the best landscapes and waterways in the state, getting charged with a BUI could take away your ability to experience them. With over 17 years of experience, Attorney Dod of Dod Law can help you craft a strong defense for your case. Criminal defense attorney Dod has over 6,500 cases under his belt and is a top choice for legal representation in San Diego. You can be confident that Attorney Dod will do everything in his power to achieve a favorable outcome for your case. Fill out our contact form or call us at (619) 814-5110 to schedule a free consultation today.