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.


RBOC-supported Boating Safety Law Enforcement Measure Passes Committee

The RBOC-supported AB 2175 [Aguiar-Curry] that would enhance boating safety law enforcement efforts has passed the Assembly Committee on Public Safety.

RBOC supports the provisions of AB 2175 that would enhance boating safety by clarifying law enforcement’s ability to remove and store vessels under specified circumstances. The bill would: 

  • Authorize a peace officer or marine safety officer, while engaged in the performance of official duties, to remove a vessel from, and, if necessary, store a vessel removed from, public property within the territorial limits in which the officer may act, under specified circumstances relating to the use of the vessel in the commission of a crime.
  • Authorize a court to order a person convicted of a crime involving the use of a vessel that is removed and impounded pursuant to these provisions to pay the costs of towing and storage of the vessel and any related administrative costs imposed in connection with the removal, impoundment, storage, or release of the vessel.

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

Division of Boating and Waterways Now Accepting California Boater Card Applications

Following please find the announcement that the Division of Boating and Waterways is accepting applications for the California Boater Card.

Starting in January 2018, recreational vessel operators of motorized vessels will be required to pass a boating exam after which they will be issued a certification card.

The process will first address individuals 20 and younger and then proceed to include boaters of all ages.

RBOC supported the legislation that was enacted to establish this program, SB 941 Monning and DeSaulnier, Chapter 433, Statutes of 2014.

The organization worked to have the program established at DBW, rather than DMV, to ensure that the certificate fees would be reasonable, and to provide for a lifetime certificate rather than a licensure program.

Sacramento, Calif. – California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) is now accepting applications for the California Boater Card. The card verifies that its holder has successfully taken and passed an approved boater safety education course. Once issued, the California Boater Card remains valid for an operator’s lifetime.

On Sept. 18, 2014, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed into law Senate Bill 941, which prohibits the operation of motorized vessels in California without a valid boater card developed and issued by DBW. The new mandatory boating safety education law will go into effect Jan. 1, 2018. The law will be phased in by age. The first group required to take the exam are boaters 20 years of age and younger. Each year after January 2018, a new age group will be added to those who are required to possess a valid card. By 2025, all persons who operate a motorized vessel on California waters will be required to have one. The cost of the lifetime card is $10, and all the money goes toward developing and operating the program. By law, DBW cannot profit from the program.

“California and U.S. Coast Guard accident data show that states with some form of boating safety education have fewer accidents and fatalities than states without any boater education requirements,” said DBW Acting Deputy Director Ramona Fernandez. “This new law will help make boating safer for all families on California’s waterways.”

California is one of the last states to implement some sort of mandatory boating education requirement. Repeatedly, recreational boating accident data shows that many operators involved in accidents have not taken a boating safety course. For example, last year’s statistics showed that more than 800 California recreational vessels were involved in reported accidents, resulting in 50 deaths. Only one of the boat operators involved in the fatal accidents had taken an approved boating safety course.

Applying for the California Boater Card is easy. Boaters have an option to apply before or after taking an approved boating safety course. You can find the list of options at www.CaliforniaBoaterCard.com.  A toll-free telephone support line is also available at (844) 421-8333.

There is good news for boaters who have already taken an approved course between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2017 - Persons who have passed an approved examination during this timeframe will have until Dec. 31, 2018 to apply for their California Boater Card to receive the “grandfathering” exemption regardless of their age. Older courses will not be accepted since they may not include recent state or national changes to navigation law.

Boating safety course providers must be approved not only by the state of California, but by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. Courses may be classroom, home study or online. 

It is important to note there are exemptions to the new law. For example, those operating a rental vessel or possess a current commercial fishing license do not need to obtain a California Boater Card. For more information on the new mandatory boating safety education law, including a current list of approved California boating courses and exemptions to the law, please visit www.CaliforniaBoaterCard.com.