California Governor Jerry Brown today signed into law AB 1829 [Levine], legislation supported by RBOC and sponsored by the California State Sheriffs' Association that clarifies current state law pertaining to boating under the influence [BUI].

RBOC supports the provisions of AB 1829 that update the boating under the influence [BUI] law as part of a continued effort to increase safety on our state’s waterways.

Addressing BUI remains important.  According to the 2013 report of the state Division of Boating and Waterways, 32% of all boating fatalities in the state involved alcohol during the period 2009 to 2013.

AB 1829 clarifies existing law and removes obsolete language regarding the arrest of a person suspected of operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

The measure amends Harbors and Navigation Code Section 655.1. The revision clarifies that an officer who arrests a person on suspicion of operating a vessel or watercraft while under the influence shall inform the person that:

  • A criminal complaint may be filed against him or her for operating a mechanically propelled vessel or manipulating any water skis, aquaplane, or similar device under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug, or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug.

  • He or she has a right to refuse chemical testing.

  • An officer has the authority to seek a search warrant compelling the arrested person to submit a blood sample.

  • He or she does not have the right to have an attorney present before stating whether he or she will submit to the chemical testing, before deciding which chemical test or tests to take, or during the administration of the chemical test or tests chosen.

This advisement provision replaces the obsolete provision in the current law. That provision requires an officer to inform a person arrested for a BUI that his or her refusal to submit to, or failure to complete, the required chemical testing may be used against the person in a court of law and that the court may impose increased penalties for that refusal or failure, upon conviction. Neither of those statements is accurate.

The provisions of the measure will take effect on January 1, 2017.