DUI in a Boat and How to Handle it
Cited for boating under the influence or operating a vessel or watercraft on a San Diego County lake, the ocean, a river or other waterway with a .08 BAC or higher?
DUI or Drunk boating carries significant penalties similar to those for drunk driving or DUI, including possible jail time, DUI fines, DUI programs and driver’s license record problems.
Drunk boating is priorable as a drunk driving prior. If you have a prior drunk driving conviction, it can be used to enhance punishment.
Jet skiers, power boaters, sailors, fishermen and pleasure seekers on a craft should know it is just as illegal to operate a boat or watercraft under the influence as it is to drive under the influence. However, it is okay for adult boaters to legally drink or simply have open containers in their vessels.
Turning your craft too fast or aggressively, inoperable navigation lights, acting out of control, equipment violations, speeding (e.g. in a 5 mph zone) around a marina or at a bridge undercrossing, lack of current registration or safety equipment are some reasons a patrol boat may stop or contact you to try and determine if you are impaired or DUI.
DUI boating defenses and drunk boating strategies include attacking the chemical test, poor DUI investigation, failure to properly administer a number of field sobriety tests, lack of proficiency in DUI enforcement or testifying, failure to prove actual operation while impaired, etc.
Drunk boating offenses can be reduced to “serving as a crew member while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, or combined influence.” The prosecutor often has difficulty proving the defendant was the operator of a vessel with more than one person aboard since it is possible to move away from the controls of a vessel for any period of time.
Harbor and Navigations Code charges may also be dismissed if you are eligible for the misdemeanor diversion program.
Alternative disposition may or may not include taking a boating safety course.