Subscribe to LexTalk to stay on top of today’s legal issue and trends.
Catapult Your Career |
Industry Insights & Trends |
Product Training & Tips
Every winter people hits the slopes to engage in skiing, snowboarding and a wide variety of other winter sports. Many of these activities can be very dangerous as people travel down slopes at very high speeds. It is very easy to hurt oneself or other people as the result of a ski accident. In fact, there have been a recent spate of highly-publicized fatal skiing accidents that emphasize the dangers of this activity.
Of course, the risks associated with skiing and snowboarding increase exponentially when these activities are conducted by someone under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicant. Because people like to unwind and have a few drinks while on a ski vacation, winter sport enthusiasts often inquire about whether they can be charged criminally for skiing under the influence.
Some states have made skiing under the influence a criminal offense. In Colorado, the Ski Safety Act makes using a ski slope while under the influence a Class 2 petty offense that is punishable by a $1,000 fine. In Wyoming, skiing under the influence is considered a misdemeanor and conviction can result in up to 20 days in jail. And in Nevada, skiing or snowboarding under the influence is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine or both. Nevada law further requires any skier or snowboarder involved in an accident to provide his or her name and address to the injured party. Failure to do so would be considered a misdemeanor offense.
In California, there is no state statute that provides a blanket prohibition against skiing or snowboarding under the influence. However, many local counties and municipalities have enacted laws criminalizing impaired skiing. Placer County, which is home to eleven popular ski resorts, has enacted Ski Safety Ordinance 9.28.050. Under this ordinance, it is unlawful for any person under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or a drug or under the combined influence of an alcohol beverage and a drug to ski in any ski area. This offense is considered an infraction and a violation can result in extensive court fines.
While there is no California state statute that specifically prohibits skiing or snowboarding under the influence, it is a crime to waterski while under the influence of alcohol or drugs pursuant to California Harbors and Navigation Code Section 655(b). Similar, it is illegal to waterski with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher under California Harbors and Navigation Code Section 655(c). Waterskiing under the influence is a misdemeanor level offense and any person convicted can be sentenced to up to six months in jail, up to a $1,000 fine or both jail and fines. Any person who is convicted under California Harbors and Navigation Code Section 655 may be ordered to complete and pass a state-approved boating safety course as a condition of probation. In addition, the sentencing judge would consider any prior DUI convictions involving automobiles when imposing sentence on a water skiing under the influence offense.