California is well known for its many lakes and recreational areas and every year these destinations are popular to vacationers and locals alike. Unfortunately, not everyone is up to date on the laws which are regularly implemented and expanded to create more safety on the waterways. If you have been accused of committing a boating violation such as boating under the influence (BUI), it is in your best interest to contact an experienced boating crimes attorney immediately for legal help.
Law enforcement is cracking down on boating violations that endanger people or wildlife. Boating offenses can be punishable with large fines, a felony or misdemeanor record, license suspension, impoundment and forfeiture of your boat, loss of boating privileges, and possible jail time depending on the severity of the crime.
Below is a list of some commonly enforced boating crimes:
- Operating a watercraft while under the influence of illegal drugs and/or alcohol. Commonly referred to as boating under the influence (BUI)
- Failing to ensure children under the age of 12 are wearing a life jacket
- Failing to wear a life jacket while skiing, wakeboarding, etc.
- Failing to complete a boat safety course when convicted of a moving violation while operating a watercraft
- Speeding in excess of five miles-per-hour within 100 feet from the shoreline or an anchored watercraft
- Reckless boating
- Unregistered vessel
- Boating in unauthorized areas
In addition to the boating crimes listed above, law enforcement also pursues misdemeanor offenses against watercraft operators who are violating equipment requirements, including:
- Failing to provide personal flotation devices for each individual on board
- Failing to have a Coast Guard approved cushion or life preserver on watercraft under 16 feet (including canoes and kayaks)
- Failing to have an operational fire extinguisher on board
- Failing to have proper navigation lighting
- Failing to equip the watercraft with a backfire flame arrestor
- Failing to equip an effective ventilation or muffling system
- Exceeding 15 miles-per-hour while boating at night
- Skiing in no-ski zone areas
It is almost important to know that you must be at least 16 years of age in order to operate a motorboat with more than 15 horsepower. Operators between the ages of 12 and 15 must have adult supervision by an adult of at least 18 years of age. Law enforcement will actively seek to pursue charges against any individuals who are in violation of these laws.
Boating under the influence has become one of the leading factors in fatal boating accidents in California. As a result, law enforcement has taken a strong stance against individuals who are accused of this crime. It is not against the law to drink while operating a boat. However, like drunk driving you can be charged with BUI if your blood alcohol level exceeds the legal limit of .08 or if you are deemed too impaired to operate your boat or personal watercraft in a safe manner.
Penalties for boating crimes where illegal drugs or alcohol is involved vary depending on the severity of the crime. For example, BUI causing serious bodily injury or death is a serious felony offense that could lead to a lengthy prison sentence.
For more information please visit our Recreational Area Crimes page.