Boaters enjoy the water twelve months a year, but law enforcement officers are also on the water twelve months a year enforcing the law, including the statutes that prohibit BUI, boating under the influence. As a boat operator, you can be charged with BUI if your blood alcohol content (BAC) level exceeds the legal limit of 0.08 percent or if you are deemed too intoxicated to operate your boat or watercraft safely. It’s imperative for any southern California boater who faces a BUI charge to speak right away with an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney.

The BUI law only applies to motorized vessels, so you cannot be charged with BUI if your vessel is a kayak, rowboat, or a non-motorized sailboat. Even so, you could still be charged with violating California’s “drunk in public” law, which carries a penalty of up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000. And the California Harbors and Navigation Code states that “No person shall operate any recreational vessel or manipulate any water skis, aquaplane, or similar device if the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more in his or her blood.”

These laws exclusively govern private recreational vessels. It is additionally illegal to operate a commercial boat or watercraft with a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher. Open containers of alcohol, while forbidden in cars, trucks, and buses, are allowed on boats, and passengers and operators can both drink on the water provided an operator does not become legally intoxicated. However, California’s zero tolerance policy regarding alcohol for those below age 21 is enforced, and an operator under age 21 with any measurable BAC whatsoever may face a BUI charge.

A California BUI conviction can include the loss of your driver’s license, fines, and even jail time. If you are charged with BUI, you’ll need a good California DUI defense lawyer who can defend your legal rights, examine the specifics of the case, explain your options, and guide you through the legal process to the best possible resolution of your case. If you’re facing any BUI or DUI charge in southern California, speak to an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney immediately.