Now that the weather is getting warmer every day and the summer is fast
approaching, more Southern Californians will be hitting the beaches and
lakes for fun in the sun. If you are like many residents in sunny Orange
County, you enjoy boating along OC’s breathtaking coastline. After
all, boating is a great way to get away from our busy lives and enjoy
When it comes to the rituals of boating, it is no secret that people across
the globe partake in an alcoholic beverage while boating, and they have
been doing this for a very long time. While “boating under the influence”
of alcohol was not considered that dangerous a hundred years ago, today’s
numbers of boating accidents tell a different story.
Intoxicated Boaters & Serious Accidents
The State of California Department of Boating and Waterways reports that
in California, intoxicated boaters have caused serious accidents, many
of which resulted in property damage, injuries, and many fatalities. What
many boaters do not realize is that the effects of alcohol can be more
pronounced when they are operating a vessel rather than a vehicle.
When factors such as engine noise, sun, dehydration, wave action, temperature,
glare, vibration, and wind are combined with alcohol, the hazards associated
with driving a boat can be greatly intensified. As a depressant, alcohol
reduces depth perception, balance, coordination, concentration, and reaction
time. It only takes a few drinks for a boater to experience impaired judgment
and become overconfident, causing the boater to take more risks than usual.
Consequences of Boating Under the Influence
California does not have an “open container” law for boats
as it does for other vehicles; however, it is just as illegal to boat
under the influence (BUI) of alcohol as it is to drive a car while intoxicated.
The legal consequences of BUI include:
- Up to one year in jail, or
- Up to a $1,000 fine, or both.
If you injured someone else, you may be charged with a
felony, and you could face up to one year in prison and a fine up to $5,000.
If you killed another person while boating under the influence, you face
felony charges and
up to 10 years in prison.
Over 150 local and state agencies enforce California’s boating laws,
some of which monitor boats in and around Dana Point Harbor and Newport
Harbor. Due to there being so many intoxicated boat operators, authorities
expressed that they are increasing their efforts to reduce alcohol-related
boating accidents throughout the state.
Contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. if you have been arrested for BUI!