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State to pay $5.6 million in lawsuit over drunk boating convictions

January 11, 2012 | 11:25 am


The California Department of Motor Vehicles will pay $5.6 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over its practice of suspending the driving privileges of people who have been convicted of boating under the influence.

The case stems from the 2005 arrest and conviction of a man for boating under the influence on the Colorado River. After DMV suspended his driver's license and required him to attend a class on alcohol addiction -- the same penalties issued for driving under the influence -- he sued to contest the practice.

In March 2007, a Superior Court judge ruled that the DMV was misinterpreting state law and barred the department from suspending driving privileges for BUI convictions.

After several more years of litigation, the two sides agreed to settle the case last year. The $5.6 million settlement was approved Monday.

After attorney's fees, the money will go to the 753 boaters who had their driving privileges suspended after BUI convictions.


Read Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal

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-- Nicholas Riccardi in Sacramento

Photo: An employee of Sea Tow tries to recover a 28-foot sailboat that beached in Seal Beach in 2005. Its owner was arrested for boating under the influence of alcohol. Credit: Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times