What is Boating Under the Influence?

Boating under the influence (BUI) is very similar to driving under the influence (DUI). Boating while intoxicated is illegal in Florida, as in other states, and is treated just like drunk driving in a car. A boat is considered any type of motorized water vessel and can include fishing boats as well as pleasure craft. A police officer or wildlife officer is able to stop boaters who are operating a boat erratically or unsafely. A boat operator may be stopped on suspicion of BUI. Boat operation is not tied to your Florida driver’s license. However, if requested to do so, you must submit to taking a blood, breath, or urine test to determine BAC, blood alcohol concentration.

Implied Consent

In Florida, as in many states, drivers are consenting to take BAC tests when they receive their driver’s license. This law applies to cars and other motor vehicles. Operating a water vessel must be done legally. By operating a vessel you are agreeing to submit to this request. Failure to submit may result in additional charges and penalties. The legal limit in Florida for both DUI and BUI is a BAC of 0.08% for those over the age of 21. If you are under the age of 21 (legal drinking age) the BAC level is 0.02%.

BUI Penalties

The potential penalties for BUI are quite severe, even for first time offenders. A first time conviction can result in punishment with a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail sentence of up to 6 months. Additionally, there may be other penalties such as substance abuse treatment or rehabilitation, probation, and community service. Also, the boat that was operated may be impounded for 10 days. Subsequent convictions after an initial BUI will incur more severe penalties. A third or fourth BUI within 10 years of the first conviction is considered a felony. You must submit to BAC testing if requested. Failure to comply will result in misdemeanor charges and a possible fine of up to $500.

Defending BUI Charges

The first thing that must be determined in a BUI case is whether the arrest was done lawfully. The law can be rather complex in this area and there are many things that can affect the situation. If you have refused to submit to BAC testing you will be fined $500 unless you request a hearing within 30 days of your arrest. Because BUI arrests are different than DUI arrests, there are different procedures that must be followed. If the arrest is found to have been done correctly, other considerations must be reviewed. For example, the law enforcement officer must follow specific procedures when requesting a blood or urine BAC test. If the law was not adhered to during the arrest process, the BAC test may not be able to be used as evidence in the case. If you are faced with BUI charges it is best to seek guidance from an experienced attorney. Your lawyer will review your case and determine the best way to proceed.