Can I be Arrested for DUI in a Boat?

Yes.  Under California Harbor and Navigation Code section 655, operating a boat under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is similar to DUI in a motor vehicle.

In fact, there are several ways in which a person can be convicted of DUI in a boat:

  1. Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol which results in your mental or physical abilities are so impaired that you are no longer able to operate the boat with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances;
  1. Operating a boat with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more;
  1. Operating a commercial boat with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or more;
  1. Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol causing injury.

The penalties for DUI in a boat are similar to DUI in a motor vehicle, including probation, DUI School, fines, and possible jail time.  (See Harbor and Navigation Code section 668(e).)  In addition, a conviction for DUI in a boat will count as a prior DUI in a motor vehicle for any subsequent prosecutions for DUI in a motor vehicle for a period of ten (10) years.  (See Vehicle Code section 23620.)

In addition, refusal to complete a chemical test of your blood alcohol concentration could result in a longer jail sentence and/or a larger fine if you are subsequently convicted.  (See Harbor and Navigation Code section 655.5.)  However, enhanced penalties for refusing a chemical test only apply if you are operating a “mechanically propelled vessel” and does not apply to boats with no motor, such as kayaks, non-motorized sail boats, canoes, etc.  (See Harbor and Navigation Code section 655.1.)

The defenses for DUI in a boat are also similar.  Did law enforcement have the right to stop you in the first place (did they have “probable cause” for the stop)?  Did law enforcement use the proper evaluation techniques during field sobriety testing?  Did law enforcement follow the correct legally required procedures when testing for blood alcohol concentration?  Etc.

A DUI in a boat conviction is very serious and could impact your life for years to come, including employment prospects and insurance rates.

If you are looking for an experienced, reliable criminal defense attorney who can provide the best defense available in a DUI case, schedule an appointment on this web site or call to set up a time to meet and discuss your case.