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Can I Get a DUI While I’m Out on the Water?

Everyone has heard of DUI, but have you heard of BUI? Boating under the influence is a federal offense and can carry the same penalties as driving under the influence.

In California, it is illegal to operate any kind of water vessel including water-skis, or any similar device, with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.08%. Doing so may result in a DUI charge and conviction, which can carry potential consequences including large fines, jail time, and possible suspension of your driver’s license.

Why Should I Be Careful on a Boat?

Alcohol is the number one contributor in fatal boat accidents. Alcohol consumption causes disruptions in the inner ear, making balance more difficult on a rocking or swaying boat. It makes it difficult to perceive the difference between up and down, making falling into the water a much more dangerous situation.

Operating a boat also requires the operator to navigate through currents and objects that may not be visible under the surface. Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol while operating a boat poses significant risk to the operator, passengers, and passersby, which is why the consequences for boating under the influence can be as serious as driving under the influence.

How to Avoid a BUI/DUI Charge on the Water

Law enforcement officers including the Coast Guard and park rangers frequently patrol public waterways and are equipped with testing materials; they will not hesitate to test an erratic operator for drug and alcohol consumption.

To avoid potential DUI charges, boaters should stick to the same guidelines as operating a car. Typically, a person of legal age will remain within the legal BAC level if they stick to 1-2 drinks over a few hours. However, it’s always smart to designate a non-drinking boat operator when planning a trip out on the water.

If you've been arrested or charged with a DUI or BUI, remember that you still have rights. Never give up any information that is self-incriminating and make sure to obtain an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. We are led by an attorney who is a board-certified expert in DUI defense. Call now for your free case evaluation. If you have any questions, call (949) 537-2202, Orange County DUI Queen, Virginia L. Landry today.