Boating Under the Influence in Florida
Although most of us associate operating a vehicle while intoxicated with drunk driving, in Florida, operating other vessels, such as a boat, while intoxicated also qualifies as driving under the influence, or a BUI. Boating under the influence comes with serious penalties, so if you were recently arrested for or charged with a BUI, it is critical to contact an experienced Seminole DUI/BUI defense lawyer who may be able to help you get your charges reduced or even dismissed.
Who Can be Charged with Boating Under the Influence?
In Florida, a person will be found guilty of operating a vessel while intoxicated if he or she has a blood or breath alcohol level of .08 percent and is arrested while operating a boat in the state. It is also possible, however, to be accused of a BUI even when a driver’s BAC does not surpass the legal threshold, as long as an officer can prove that the person is question was under the influence of alcohol, any prohibited chemical substance, or a controlled substance to the extent that his or her faculties were impaired.
Boaters who are under the age of 21 years old are held to an even higher standard, as they can be charged with boating under the influence if a BAC test reveals a breach alcohol level of .02 or higher. Those who are convicted under Florida’s zero tolerance BUI law face 50 hours of community service, will be prohibited from using their boat until those hours are completed, and will be required to attend a boating safety course.
Penalties for Boating Under the Influence
Those who are convicted of boating under the influence face serious penalties. For instance, even a first time offender could be sentenced to six months imprisonment, be required to pay a fine of between $500 and $1,000, complete 50 hours of community service, and have their vessel impounded for up to ten days. A second violation of the BUI law, on the other hand, could result in imprisonment for at least ten days, but up to nine months, a $2,000 fine, and the immobilization or impoundment of the boat for a month. Finally, those convicted of a third violation within ten years can be charged with a third degree felony, be sentenced to at least one month, but up to five years in prison, and have their vessels impounded for up to 90 days.
In addition to jail sentences and fines, offenders can also be required to:
- Comply with monthly probationary reporting requirements;
- Attend a substance abuse course;
- Seek substance abuse evaluation and treatment; and
- Pay court fees.
Fortunately, there are a number of defenses that boaters can raise on their own behalf when unfairly accused of boating under the influence.
Contact Our Office Today for Help with Your Case
If you were recently arrested for boating under the influence, you could be facing stiff penalties. To learn more about these penalties and your possible defenses, please contact the dedicated BUI defense legal team at Reep Coleman & Stubbendorff. We can be reached at 727-330-6502, by completing one of our online contact forms, or by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org today.