What is a Boating DUI?

Most of us have heard about a DUI that happened from drinking and driving on the road. Did you know that you can get a DUI from drinking and driving a boat? It’s called a BUI, which stands for boating under the influence (of drugs or alcohol). Law enforcement officers are on the lookout for BUI offenses involving boaters operating water vessels like boats, ships, and even jet skis.

As a result of the rising number of boating accidents nationwide, many states enacted Boating Under Influence (BUI) laws to help curb maritime incidents. Section 655 of the Harbors And Navigation Code is the governing law giving provisions on BUIs. According to the US Coast Guard, which is the body responsible for maritime law enforcement operating a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Just like a regular DUI, BUI convictions happen when people are found operating a vessel with an appreciable degree of impairment or if they are found to have a BAC OF 0.04% for commercial vessels and 0.08% for recreational vessels.  


Penalties for BUI are quite similar to common DUI convictions. The penalties also vary by the sections violated, consideration of prior offenses, or the presence of aggravating factors. The majority of the BUI charges tend to be minor and receive only misdemeanor penalties. A misdemeanor BUI carries a penalty of up to 6 months in county jail or a criminal fine of up to $1,000. If the incident resulted in an injury, courts can treat the case as a wobbler, meaning either a misdemeanor or felony charges can apply.

A felony BUI carries many severe consequences, including 16 months, 24 months, or 3 years in federal prison. The significance of the penalty also depends on the presence of any prior convictions. Even though BUI and DUI laws operate on two different ecosystems, current BUI convictions will also be considered in the future as a prior in a DUI case. This might not seem fair to most motorists, but the logic is still the same: you cannot be trusted to operate any mobile vessel at land or sea. Repeat BUI offenses also increase the chances of harsher penalties like a 1-year jail term or $1,000 in fines as well as a mandatory 18-30 months of DUI classes. 

Unfortunately, the consequences do not end after a person has served his or her sentence. BUI convictions carry long-term implications that will have rippling effects on your personal life. Luckily, The DUI Attorney can help you fight BUI charges. At Criminal Defense Hero, we go above and beyond to ensure that our clients receive the best DUI and BUI legal services in the state of California.

The DUI Attorney Don Hammond


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