Senate Fiscal Committee Places BUI Expansion Measure "On Suspense"

The Senate Appropriations Committee today placed SB 1247 [Gaines] "on suspense" until it determines whether there is sufficient state monies to cover the projected state costs associated with its implementation.

SB 1247 is the measure that would expand the ability of a peace officer, who lawfully arrests a person for boating under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs [BUI], to request that the arrested person submit to a chemical test.

The bill would extend this authority to persons operating any vessel, rather than mechanically-propelled vessels.

Today, the bill was placed “on suspense” as anticipated due to the projected state fiscal impact: “Unknown, potential state incarceration costs for longer commitments to state prisons for persons found guilty of BUI while doing an act forbidden by law that causes bodily injury to another."

The committee will decide just prior to the Memorial Day Weekend whether this and the numerous other measures placed on suspense will pass through the Appropriations Committee an on to the Floor for consideration.


Legislation Extending BUI Chemical Testing to Non-motorized Vessels Passes First Committee

Legislation will pass the Senate Public Safety Committee today to amend California's Boating Under the Influence [BUI] law that authorizes an officer to request a person arrested for BUI to submit to chemical testing.

SB 1247 [Gaines] would delete the requirement that the vessel be mechanically propelled.

Following is the author's stated rationale for the measure [from the policy committee analysis]:

"The Harbors and Navigation Code contains no definition of "machinery" and a vague definition of "mechanically propelled." California Boating Law gives an officer authority to request the operator of a "mechanically propelled vessel" submit to the chemical testing of their blood, breath, or urine if lawfully arrested for operating a vessel or other equipment while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.  The problem is an operator of a 30-foot sailboat with no motor, operating under sail at 20 knots, with an BAC level .10% stopped for a boating violation and arrested can refuse the officer's request for a chemical test since there is question as to whether the sailboat is a "mechanically propelled vessel.”

"Law enforcement should be able ask an arrested person to provide a chemical test of an operator of a sailing craft that could cause major damage, injure someone, or cause death.  Boating officers are under the assumption that a sail is "machinery" just as an "oar" is for a canoe or kayak.  There is a lack of clarity as to whether operators of vessels or craft using a sail, paddle, etc. can be asked to submit to chemical testing. Sailing vessels with or without motors piloted by a person under the influence create a safety issue for all boaters."

SB 1247 next proceeds

The measure is sponsored by the California State Sheriffs’ Association.