San Diego DUI Law Center


Boating Under the Influence in San Diego

Enjoying your boat before encountering the “boat police” – Harbor Patrol, Coast Guard or Lake Patrol – in San Diego?

End up your day facing a “BUI” – operating a watercraft, vessel or boat under the influence and/or with a .08 BAC or higher?

Drunk boating or BUI can mean stiff punishment comparable to drivers convicted of California drunk driving or DUI, including possible jail time, DUI fines, DUI programs and driver’s license record problems.

Drunk boating on a lake, the ocean, a river or other waterway is prior-able as a drunk driving prior. If you have a prior California DUI conviction, it will be used to increase penalties.

Power boaters, sailors, jet skiers, fishermen and pleasure seekers on a craft should know it is just as illegal to operate any watercraft or boat under the influence as it is to drive under the influence. Although adult boaters may legally drink alcohol or have open containers in their vessels, the operator may not be impaired.

Appearing to operate one’s watercraft out of control, equipment violations, speeding, turning your boat perceived as too fast or aggressively, inoperable navigation lights, lack of current registration or any required safety equipment are a number of bases a water cop or patrol boat may stop or contact you to ascertain if you are impaired or BUI.
BUI or drunk boating defenses and DUI boating defense strategies include challenging the chemical test, poor BUI investigation, failure to properly administer field sobriety testing, failure of discharge of proper investigative duties in BUI or DUI enforcement, failure to prove actual operation while intoxicated and failure to prove actual impairment while operating.

BUI or drunk boating offenses may be dropped to a lesser offense of “serving as a crew member while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, or combined influence.” The drunk boating prosecutor sometimes has a problem proving the defendant was the actual operator of the boat or vessel when more than 1 person is on board as it is possible to move away at any given time from the controls of a boat.

Optional plea arrangements may include completing a boating safety course. BUI or drunk boating charges prosecuted under the California Harbor and Navigations Code may be dismissed if the accused is determined to be eligible for the misdemeanor diversion program.

San Diego drunk driving lawyer Rick Mueller offers a free online consultation.