An alarming number of boating accidents and fatalities have been reported in Florida, most of which happen because of alcohol use. Therefore, it is not surprising that the State of Florida considers boating under the influence (BUI) a serious punishable offense.
A person is charged with the offense of BUI when that individual is caught boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As per the Florida statute 327.25, ‘boats’ come under the category of ‘vessel’ which also includes barges, airboats, water crafts or any other means of transportation over water.
The BUI Law in Florida is stricter for boaters compared to drivers. This is because drivers tend to be more experienced in driving vehicles on land, than driving a boat in water bodies. The environment out on the water – i.e. vibration, engine’s noise, etc. – may also increase the rate at which the driver’s abilities are impaired. This unforgiving environment when coupled DUI can often result in accidents that there is no coming back from.
Before applying penalties on an individual several factors are taken into account. These include:
• If the operator of the boat was driving and was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the same time
• If the operator of the boat had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. This BAC level or more is enough to impair the ability to drive safe.
• If the operator was 18 years of age or older at the time of offense.
• If the operator’s driving contributed to or caused an accident that involved death, property damage or injury
Penalties & Consequences
If you meet the criteria and are convicted of BUI, the law has severe punishments in place in order to discourage drivers from boating while they are intoxicated. Criminal penalties for BUI are:
• An operator fined with BUI First Offense is charged a fine of not less than 500 Dollars and/or up to six months in a county jail
• An operator fined with BUI Second Offense is charged a fine of not less than 1,000 Dollars and/or up to 9 months in a county jail
• An operator fined with BUI Third Offense within 10 years of the first conviction is charged a fine up to 5,000 Dollars and up to five years in a state prison facility
• An operator fined with BUI Third Offense outside 10 years of the first conviction is charged a fine of not less than 2,000 Dollars and up to 12 months in county jail
Implied consent means that you have already given your consent to be tested using a breathalyzer whenever you are suspected of operating a vessel under the influence. So in case you are caught, you can be fined for refusing to take the test.
Despite the clearly defined penalties for boating under the influence in Florida, the court may also sentence you to serve a term of imprisonment and/or time in substance abuse treatment program.
If you find yourself in a legal situation due to a boating accident, don’t hesitate to call us (786) 358-6888 or send a private message below.