It’s spring, and for millions of California’s residents and visitors, that means the season of fun and recreation on the water. But sometimes people have too much fun on the water and they’re charged with boating under the influence, also known as boating DUI or as BUI. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a lake, on a river, or in the Pacific; operating a boat or any other watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol – that is, at or above a blood-alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent – is a criminal offense in California. If you’re charged with BUI, call an experienced DUI defense attorney at once and get the legal help you’re going to need.

The California Harbors and Navigation Code does not forbid boat passengers or operators from drinking alcohol or carrying open containers. (The exception is for working crew members on chartered boats.) Otherwise, a BUI offense is almost identical, in legal terms, to a DUI charge. The behaviors that give law enforcement officers a reason to suspect you of BUI include:

  • Careless or reckless driving
  • Speeding
  • Right-of-way infringements
  • Equipment violations

The consequences of a conviction for BUI are much like those for a DUI conviction; fines, probation, and possible jail time. A good DUI defense lawyer will also use some of the same strategies in defending you against a BUI charge. Field sobriety and chemical test results can be disputed; eyewitness testimony may be discredited; and even the reason you were stopped in the first place may be challenged. Your attorney may be able to have your charge reduced or dismissed; if that option is closed, he or she will fight aggressively at trial for your acquittal. An experienced DUI defense attorney can almost always find and attack a weakness in the prosecutor’s case. Don’t risk your freedom or your future. If you’re charged with BUI, protect yourself and speak promptly to an experienced DUI defense attorney.