Florida Laws on Boating Under the Influence

We all know not to drink and drive. And we all are somewhat familiar with the formalities and penalties of violating the driving laws.  However, most people are far less familiar with what happens when they are pulled over while boating, also known as Boating Under the Influence (BUI).

If you assume that BUI is a bizarre criminal charge that only rarely happens, think again.  Many Florida residents have faced stiff consequences as a result of a BUI conviction

Getting “Pulled Over” on a boat

Just as if a person were driving, if a person is suspected of operating a vessel under the influence they will be pulled over and subjected to a sobriety test. Similar to cases where a person is arrested for a DUI, failure to comply with boating regulations can result in fines, and in some cases imprisonment.

Charged with BUI

Under Florida law, a person is guilty of the offense of boating under the influence if the person is operating a “vessel” within the state and the person is under the influence.  A vessel includes a small boat, canoe, or yacht.  A person can be under the influence of either alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances, and either:

  • (a)   the person is affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired;
  • (b)  the person has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or
  • (c)   the person has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

BUI Penalties in Florida

As you might imagine, the penalties increase with prior convictions are arrests for BUI.

First BUI Offense:

A first time BUI offender may be subject to a fine of at least $100 but not more than $1000.  The defendant will be placed on probation for up to a year and subjected to service a minimum of 50 hours of community service. Generally, imprisonment will not be more than 6 months for a first conviction.

Second BUI Offense:

A person who is convicted of a second BUI offense will be subject to a fine between $1000 and $2000.  If the second offense occurs within 5 years of a prior conviction, the court shall order imprisonment for not less than 10 days but not more than 9 months.

Third BUI:

A person convicted of a third violation within 10 years after a prior conviction, commits a felony of the third degree.  If the third violation occurs after 10 years the person will be subject to a fine between $2000 and $5000.  The court shall order imprisonment for not less than 30 days but not more than 12 months.

Fourth BUI:

A person convicted of a fourth violation, regardless of when any prior convictions occurred, commits a felony of the third degree. Additionally, any fines imposed cannot be less than $2000.

Different Types of BUI in Florida

BUI Misdemeanor v. BUI Felony

A person commits a misdemeanor in the first degree when the person causes damage to another person or property  A person commits a felony of the third degree when another person is seriously injured while boating under the influence.

BUI Manslaughter

The death of any human being commits BUI manslaughter, and commits a felony if at the time of the accident the operator knew or should have known of the accident (or death) and failed to give information to authorities or render aid as required.

Contacting a Miami BUI Defense Attorney

If you are facing BUI charges in South Florida, our legal team is your best defense.  Contact the Miami BUI defense attorneys at Falk & Ross to discuss your case – (877) 663 – 5110.