Ventura is a beautiful city to live in and provides close access to the shore and the Channel Islands. Many residents have boats in the harbors between Oxnard and Santa Barbara and families often spend weekends venturing out to Anacapa or Santa Cruz Island. But with the wide stretch of ocean between the shores of Ventura and the cliffs of the islands, it is important that all boaters remain alert and vigilant of changing ocean conditions and tides. Intoxicated boaters put themselves at risk of endangering themselves and others and being arrested for boating under the influence.
Just as operating a car is dangerous while you are intoxicated, boating while under the influence is equally as risky. Ventura Harbor Patrol and the Coast Guard are on the lookout for intoxicated boaters. Any vessel, including sail boats, water skis and motor boats that is operated while under the influence can land you with a BUI charge. Under California’s Harbors and Navigation Code §655, any operation of vessel by an individual with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% for a private vessel and 0.04% for a commercial vessel can lead to an arrest. If you are thought to be operating a vessel under the influence, such as moving the craft erratically or making illegal maneuvers, you may be stopped and asked to abide by a field sobriety test. If it is determined that you are under the influence, you will be arrested and your vessel will be towed and impounded.
Under California law, any person over the age of 21 is allowed to have an open alcohol bottle or can on the vessel as long as they are not in direct operation of the vessel. Because of this law, it can be argued that you were not operating the vessel at the time of arrest. Also, even if you were in open water when stopped, you still have the right to be treated fairly and equally. If the arresting authority mistreated you or violated your rights in any way, you may be able to receive an acquittal or dismissal of your charges. Field sobriety tests may also be difficult in open water, as steady ground is hard to come by and sun and dehydration may play factors in the case. If you have been arrested for boating under the influence, do not hesitate to contact Ridley Defense today and speak with a dedicated criminal defense attorney in Ventura County.