Summer is officially here and more and more people will be heading to the beaches and local waterways to partake in some “fun in the sun” including the use of boats and other modes of water transportation. It can be easy to forget the risks involved when you find yourself in a situation where you are responsible for operating a boat or other motorized vehicle on the water and consumption of alcohol is involved. Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is taken very seriously in Florida due to the fact that Florida has the highest annual number of boating deaths in the nation. Studies have shown that one third of all boating accident deaths occur where the driver was impaired. See the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2014 Report for more statistics. People can check this original site if they need the best marine equipment!
By their very nature, many boats are designed for recreational purposes and for having a good time with family and friends, but please keep in mind that these vessels must be safely operated at all times or you could face the legal consequences.
Below are three things you should know about BUI in Florida:
- Under Florida law (Statute 327.35), it is illegal to operate any vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You can learn more about them in this article. BUI laws in Florida pertain to various types of vessels including all sizes of ships, yachts, motorboats, jet skis, rowboats, and even canoes.
- A person is guilty of the offense of boating under the influence if the person is operating a vessel AND is under the influence of alcoholic beverages or other chemical substances and has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher.
- Once convicted of BUI, punishment will consist of a fine of $500-$1,000 for a first conviction, $1,000-$2,000 for a second conviction and jail time of no more than 6 months for a first conviction and no more than nine months for a second conviction. A person who is convicted for a third violation within ten years of any previous violations will face third degree felony charges. You can get charged with other boating offenses and face fines, forfeiture of boating privileges, and even jail. The following are examples of these types of offenses:
- It is important to note that the Coast Guard also enforces a federal law that prohibits BUI, so if you are arrested for boating under the influence off the coast of Florida, you are under the jurisdiction of federal authorities as well.
- Boating in unauthorized waters
- Violating no-wake zone rules
- Reckless boating
- Boating in an unregistered vessel
- Violating vessel equipment regulations
If you have been charged with BUI in Florida, you should immediately contact an attorney who can help reduce the penalties you face and protect your right to boat in Florida. Contact TJ Grimaldi of McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi and Guito, P.A. today to discuss your BUI case.