No motor vehicle should be operated while under the influence of alcohol – including watercraft! Bail bonds for boating under the influence aren’t always necessary. It depends on the nature of the crime and whether or not the individual was charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Regardless, California Harbors and Navigation Code 655 HN makes it illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol.
To be clear, 655 HN makes it illegal to:
- Operate any vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Operate a recreational vessel with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08% or higher
- Operate a commercial vessel with a BAC of 0.04% or higher or
- Operate any vessel while under the influence of alcohol and, while doing so, commit a negligent act that causes bodily injury to another person
Boats aren’t the only vehicles considered “vessels” under California Harbors and Navigation Code 655 HN. One can possibly be charged with violating the law if they are found to be operating jet skis, water skis, an aquaplane or similar device.
First offenses of violating 655 HN are typically charged as misdemeanors, and the possible penalties include: summary probation, up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. If an individual is convicted of violating 655 HN and has a DUI (or BUI) within the past 7 years, the possible time spent in jail is increased to 1 year.
If someone else is injured as a result of the defendant boating while intoxicated, the charge can be increased to aggravated BUI, which is a “wobbler” that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged as a misdemeanor, aggravated BUI carries the possible sentences of a minimum of 90 days and maximum of 1 year in jail, a minimum fine of $250 or maximum of no more than $5,000. If charged as a felony, the potential jail sentence is increased to 16 months, 2 years or 3 years.