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Los Angeles Boating Under the Influence Defense Lawyers

Legal Defense Against Los Angeles Boating Under the Influence Charges

Like DUI, boating under the influence (BUI) is a crime in California. It carries heavy penalties – essentially the same as those for DUI. If you are facing BUI charges, it is important to consult with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney as soon as possible for your best chance of the most favorable outcome.

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What Is Boating Under Influence and How Does It Differ From DUI?

BUI is prohibited in California under the Harbors and Navigation Code Section 655. The law states:

  • No person shall operate any vessel or manipulate water skis, an aquaplane, or a similar device while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage, any drug, or the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug.
  • 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.

It is a crime to operate a boat, watercraft, jet skis, or any vessel under the influence of drugs or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher. Even if you are under the legal limit for alcohol, you may be guilty of BUI if your mental or physical abilities are too impaired for safe operation of the vessel. This is subjectively determined by the arresting officer, as it is with DUI.

State law regarding BUI differs somewhat from the law on DUI. California’s strict prohibitions against driving a car with an open container of alcohol do not apply on boats. It is legal for people on a watercraft, including operators, to drink, provided BAC does not exceed the legal limit and they do not become impaired by alcohol or drugs to an “appreciable degree.”

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What Are the Consequences of a BUI Conviction?

Boating under the influence carries similar penalties as driving under the influence.

  • First offense BUI (with no prior BUIs or DUIs within the previous seven years) is a misdemeanor offense, potentially punishable by a county jail sentence of up to six months and fines of up to $1,000. Most first-time BUI offenders are sentenced to informal probation and DUI education.
  • Prior offenders with a BUI or DUI within the previous seven years could possibly be sentenced to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines. It is more likely that the sentence will be formal or informal probation and 18 to 30 months of DUI education.
  • Misdemeanor BUI may be eligible for pretrial diversion. If granted and successfully completed, pretrial diversion results in dismissal of the charges.
  • BUI with injuries is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, at the discretion of the prosecution, depending on any priors and the extent and severity of the injuries. Felony BUI is punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year and fines of up to $5,000. Aggravated felony BUI involving serious injury or death of another person can carry up to 10 years in prison.

In addition to criminal penalties, a BUI conviction can result in driver’s license or commercial vessel license suspension or revocation. It also leaves you with a permanent criminal record, which can impact future opportunities for employment, housing, education, and professional standing.

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Contact a Los Angeles Boating Under the Influence Attorney

If you have been charged with BUI, our experienced Los Angeles boating under the influence defense lawyers at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP can fight for the best possible outcome by negotiating with the prosecution, filing pre-trial motions, and defending you in court. Contact us at (213) 688-0460 for dedicated criminal defense against boating under the influence charges.

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Contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP Today
Phone: (213) 688-0460
Fax: (213) 624-1942

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