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California Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

California H&N 655(b), 655(c), & 655(f) (BUI)

The laws on the crime of boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol are found at California Harbors and Navigation Code Sections 655(b), 655(c), and 655(f). (Harbors and Navigations Code is referred here simply as HN for brevity).

The most common criminal charge of boating under the influence is charged under HN 655(b). To prove that the defendant is guilty of HN 655(b) the district attorney must prove:

  • The defendant drove or operated a boat or boating vessel, and
  • While driving the boat or boating vessel the defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or a combination of both drugs and alcohol.

HN 655(b) does not require that the defendant's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reach 0.08% of more. Any amount of alcohol or drugs, no matter how small the amount might be, if sufficient to sustain a boating under the influence (BUI) charge, if, the amount of alcohol or drugs, is sufficient to impair the defendant's ability to operate a boat. 

When the defendant's BAC is above 0.08%, the defendant may also be charged with BUI under HN 655(c). It is not uncommon for boaters to be charged with both crimes: HN 655(b) and HN 655(c). 

HN 655(c) is known as the per se count, which means if the prosecutor can prove that the defendant's BAC was at least 0.08% while operating a boat then the prosecutor will not need to prove that the defendant's ability to operate the boat was impaired due to alcohol. If the defendant's BAC is below 0.08% while operating a boat the prosecutor will need to prove that the defendant's ability to operate a boat was actually impaired by alcohol. 

For commercial drivers of boats the legal limit is 0.04% BAC and is charged under HN 655(d).

For BUIs that involve drugs (no alcohol), the district attorney will need to prove that the drugs, whether legal or illegal, impaired the defendant's ability to safely operate a boat. BAC refers to alcohol; thus, for BUIs that involve drugs there is no pe se count equal to HN 655(c). For BUIs involving drugs the district attorney will usually charge the crime of HN 655(e) DUI boating while addicted to drugs.

Sentence & Other Penalties:

Boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or BUI is a misdemeanor in California. BUI is often referred to as DUI Boating as opposed to BUI. Either way, if the defendant is found guilty of BUI or DUI Boating under H&N 655(b) he or she may face up to 180 days in jail for a first offense. This jail time is in addition to other punishments associated with BUI (See below).

If injury is caused as result of BUI the defendant is likely to be charged with felony BUI under HN 655(f). HN 655(f) carries up to a three year jail sentence for a first offense.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of felony BUI (HN 655(f)) the district attorney must prove:

  • The defendant drove a boat or boating vessel, and
  • While driving the boat or boating vessel the defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or a combination of both drugs and alcohol, and
  • The defendant, while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, also committed an illegal act (or failed to perform a legal duty), and
  • The defendant's illegal act (or failure to perform a legal duty) caused bodily injury to another person.

In some cases of DUI Boating it may be possible to reduce the BUI charge or have the case dismissed entirely. In other cases, it may be possible to have the sentence and penalties associated with either a misdemeanor or felony BUI reduced.

In addition to any possible jail or prison time, if found guilty of BUI under HN 655(b), 655(c), 655(e), or 655(f), the defendant may also face probation or parole terms, mandatory boating classes, DUI style classes, restitution, fines, professional license consequences, immigration consequences (for non-US citizens), and more.

If you or a loved one has been charged with BUI, or DUI Boating, under HN 655(b), 655(c), 655(e), or 655(f), contact our criminal defense attorneys today.

Our team of criminal defense attorneys dedicate 100% percent of their practice to criminal defense and initial consultations are provided at no cost to the accused. We will patiently review the facts of your BUI case and explain to you your rights and options as part of your defense.

Our criminal defense attorney are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, to answer all of your boating under the influence questions

Call today!

909.913.3138

Closely associated crimes to HN 655(b), include:

  • HN 655(c) BUI with 0.08% of more
  • HN 655(a) Reckless Boating
  • HN 655(e) Boating while addicted to drugs
  • HN 655(f) Boating under the influence w/injury
  • VC 23152 Driving under the influence (DUI)

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Boating Under the Influence (BUI): HN 655

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California Boating Under the Influence (BUI) HN 655(b), 655(c), 655(e) & 655(f)

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