San Diego DUI - San Diego DUI Attorney, San Diego DUI Attorneys, San Diego DUI Attourney

california boating under the influence

Harbors & Navigation Code 655(b) & (c)

California's laws regarding Boating under the Influence, or BUI, can be somewhat misleading in contrast to the DMV's clearly strict drinking and driving policies for motor vehicles. which establish all open alcohol containers illegal within the cabin area of automobiles, the consumption of alcoholic beverages on vessels and boats in San Diego waterways is actually lawful and does not automatically constitute BUI.

The legality to drink and boat on San Diego's waterways can induce an overly relaxed attitude toward alcohol consumption when in fact, the BAC limit for boaters on the waterways is the as the same limit for motorists on the highway; .08% for adults over 21 years of age, and .01% for minors under California's legal drinking age of 21.

boating & open alcohol containers

California allows consumption of alcohol aboard vessels and boats for both passengers and private leisure boat operators, yet enforces the state's legal BAC limit for operating a motor vehicle or vessel of .08% and below, or under the influence.

skiing under the influence

A passenger who dons a pair of water skis or an innertube, although neither self-propelled nor motorized, is then considered a driver, operator, or motorist. The water skiier assumes the same responsibilty for his blood alcohol content as the boat's captain and can be subjected to arrest for skiing under the influence.

coast guard's enforcement of bui


The San Diego Coast Guard, in agreement with the Port Authority and local law enforcement agencies, assists and coordinates in the enforcement of BUI laws. Coast Guard personnel are authorized to intercept and redirect any vessel operated by a person suspected of drunk boating.

If a boat, vessel, or personal watercraft such as a jetski is "pulled over", or stopped by a cutter, the coast guard may designate a sober and competent person to moor the boat and bring it to safety. Most likely a coast guard officer will board the boat and take command. The procedure for arresting a drunk boater usually includes the coast guard relinquishing custody of the suspect to local law enforcement personnel who are summoned to take the offender into custody.

san diego boating under the influence penalties

  • Imposition of Sentence Suspended of 3 years
  • Violate No Laws, traffic infractions excluded
  • Probation Department’s Public Work Service Program
  • Public Work Service for excessive BAC enhancement
  • $959 fine + $100 Probation Revocation Restitution Fine
  • Mandatory Coast Guard Boating Safety Class MANDATORY
  • Substance Abuse Assessment Unit
  • First Conviction Alcohol Education Program Eligibility


15% - 19%: 5 DAYS Public Work Service for excessive BAC enhancement
20% - 24%: 10 DAYS Public Work Service for excessive BAC enhancement
25% AND ABOVE: 15 DAYS Public Work Service for excessive BAC enhancement

license suspension for up to 5 years

A boating conviction in San Diego carries an admin per se license suspension penalty of up to five years for a first offense, and financial penalties from $500 up to $7500, up to two years of incarceration, as well as loss of boating license for one year. Fines, in-custody sentencing, and punitive consequences increase when penalty enhancements exist, such as causing bodily injury to another, excessive blood alcohol content, child endangerment, and other aggravating factors.

bui exempt vessels and watercraft

Watercraft such as kayaks, canoes, motorless rafts, and other self-propelled vessels are exempt from boating under the influence laws. In contrast, waterskis, innertubes, and similar devices used while being pulled from a boat DO subject the skiier to the standard BAC limit of .08%. A waterskiier with a .09% BAC while being propelled from a boat is as susceptible to a BUI arrest as if he or she was actually driving the boat. Any craft or sailboat equipped with a motor, regardless of horsepower, falls under San Diego's DUI - BUI laws.

california implied consent & boating

In summary, if you operate a boat on California waterways, you have automatically accepted the DMV's Implied Consent clause in exchange for the privilege of licensure. California views driving, motorcycling & boating as a privilege, rather than an irrevocable right or entitlement.

Implied Consent is an agreement to cooperate with a peace officer when requested to submit to a chemical blood or breath test when operating a vehicle or vessel, and the consent is automatic, thus implied, when a person applies for the license to drive.

If you have been arrested for boating under the influence in Southern California, it is essential that you consult with a qualified and experienced DUI Lawyer. Darren Kavinoky has successfully managed thousands of DUI and BUI cases both with the DMV and in criminal court. Call our office 24/7 at 619.231.7412. We offer a free consultation, and never charge a fee to speak with us.


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