Ventura BUI Attorney

Boating Under the Influence in Ventura, CA

The term "BUI" stands for "boating under the influence;" a criminal offense similar to drunk driving. Unlike DUI, BUI does not involve cars; it is restricted to vessels (boats).

Although drinking and driving is typically associated with motor vehicles, boating under the influence is a fairly common criminal charge, but many people are unaware of the legal consequences associated with a BUI conviction; in fact, some people may be unaware that boating under the influence is even a criminal offense. Call us today for legal help!

That's why the Ventura BUI lawyers at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP are committed to providing aggressive criminal defense representation to our clients.

California BUI Laws

The California Harbors and Navigation Code § 655(c) 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.

Additionally, § 655(f) indicates that it is unlawful to operate a vessel while "under the influence of an alcoholic beverage." Like DUI laws, BUI laws include drug impairment and the combination of alcohol and drug. Additionally, any person who is addicted to a controlled substance cannot operate a boat, aquaplane, or similar vessel unless he/she is enrolled in a narcotic treatment program.

According to CA Harbors and Navigation Code § 665, the court will assume that you operated boat under the influence if blood, breath, or urine testing indicates that your BAC is over the legal limit (0.08%) three hours after you operated the vessel. This assumption is called a rebuttal presumption and is often used by prosecutors to the obtain BUI convictions.

BUI & Non-Recreational Vessels

The CA Harbors and Navigation Code has special laws that govern non-recreational vessels and BUI. According to § 655(d), it is unlawful for any person to operate a non-recreational vessel with a BAC that equals or exceeds 0.04% - half of the legal limit for recreational boater. If a non-recreational boat operator has a BAC or0.04% within three hours of operating the vessel, the court will assume that he/she was under the influence of alcohol while operating the boat.

BUI Evidence and Prosecution

The California Harbors and Navigation Code indicates that, during a BUI case, chemical testing can be used as evidence against you even if your BAC was under the legal limit. According to § 655(2), the chemical testing may count as evidence against you if, within three hours of operating a boat, your BAC is more than 0.05% but less than 0.08%.

In this situation, prosecution can argue that you were under the influence of alcohol. However, the court will not assume that you were impaired. If your BAC is less than 0.05% within three hours of operating a vessel, the law assumes that you were not under the influence of alcohol during the alleged offense. This evidence must be substantiated by chemical testing.

BUI and DUI investigations are very similar. In order to obtain a BUI conviction, prosecutors typically rely on the following evidence:

  • Driving pattern (swerving, speed, etc.)
  • Chemical testing (blood, breath, or urine tests)
  • Field sobriety tests
  • Physical appearance (slurred speech, watery eyes, balance, etc.)

Aggravated BUI in Ventura

In order to obtain an aggravated BUI conviction, the prosecution must show that you drove a vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, aggravated BUI is significantly more serious that a typical boating under the influence charge. In addition to impairment, the prosecution must demonstrate that you broke the law of drove negligently in addition to boating under the influence.

Boating under the influence alone is not enough to constitute an aggravated charge. Additionally, aggravated BUI must involve personal injury to a third party. Without these elements, the prosecutor cannot construct a convincing aggravated BUI charge.

What are the penalties for boating under the influence?

A standard, misdemeanor BUI is punishable by six months in a county jail, a $1,000 fine, and DUI school. Subsequent BUIs are punishable by heightened penalties. For example, your second BUI within seven years is punishable by one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, probation, and a 30-month DUI program.

Like underage DUI, California boating under the influence laws have special penalties for minor offenders. If a boater less than 21 years old is found with any measurable amount of alcohol in his/her system, the court could impose a twelve-hour DUI program and a $100 fine.

Aggravated BUI is punishable by:

  • Up to three years in a state prison
  • Between $250 and $5,000 in fines
  • Probation
  • DUI School
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