BUI, or boating under the influence, is responsible for a staggering number of arrests, accidents and deaths in Florida every year. It’s a significant crime and you should avoid it.
Hitting the water in your boat with a supply of your preferred beverage for an afternoon of fishing, skiing or swimming is a very popular thing in Florida. And because the state doesn’t outlaw drinking while boating, it’s become very common, as well. However, like driving a car, there are consequences to operating a boat under the influence. What should you know about these consequences?
Just like Florida’s highways, law enforcement officers patrol the state’s waters. One of their jobs is to ensure that boats are safe and being operated correctly, including checking for drunk boaters. However, unlike the situation with cars on the road, law enforcement officers have no need for “reasonable suspicion” before pulling over your boat. That means you can expect to be pulled over at pretty much any time for a safety inspection (you’ll be checked for sobriety at the same time).
Know the Limits
Fist, you are correct that Florida does not prohibit drinking while operating a boat. However, just like driving on the highway, there is a legal limit. If your BAC (blood alcohol content) is greater than .08, you can expect criminal charges. BUI is a crime and one that the state takes very seriously. Every year, there are accidents and fatalities in the world of boating, and 1/3 of those are related directly to alcohol use.
Know the Punishments
BUI punishments might not be quite as steep as those for DUI, but they are present and you need to know what they are. You’ll find that the severity of your punishment is determined largely by your how serious your infraction is, but punishments include fines of $250 and up, and jail time of up to 6 months. If there are previous alcohol-related charges in your past, you can expect much more severe consequences (including jail time of up to 5 years). Finally, if there is a death involved in the incident or there are personal injuries, authorities can escalate your crime from a misdemeanor to a felony.
For those who have been the victims of BUI, having an expert law firm on your side is vital and can help ensure you receive the recompense you are due.