Boating under the influence (BUI) is a serious charge in Florida. Under Florida Statute 327.35 it is unlawful to command your vessel under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you have a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, or you are operating your boat while your normal faculties are impaired, you can be found guilty of BUI. While a first offense is a misdemeanor, a BUI can be charged as a felony if you have three offenses within 10 years or if you cause an accident resulting in serious injury or death.

A BUI Is Very Similar to a DUI in Florida

The BUI statute is similar to the DUI statute as to what the state has to prove. Both offenses are misdemeanors for a first offense unless someone is injured. Both have increased penalties for subsequent convictions. Both require probation and require attendance at a substance abuse course. The court will also impound the vessel for 10 days, which is similar to the DUI statute, which requires a ten-day immobilization.

Does Your Driver’s License Get Suspended for a BUI?

Your driver’s license does not get suspended for refusing a blood, breath, or urine test. However, you are subject to a civil penalty of $500. A refusal can be used against you in court. You can also challenge the refusal by requesting a hearing with the clerk of court within 30 days. If you do not pay the civil penalty within 30 days and you do not request a hearing with the clerk, operating a vessel is a first-degree misdemeanor.

Penalties for a First BUI

The first time you are found guilty of BUI, you will face the following penalties:

  • A fine of $500-$1,000
  • Probation and up to six months in jail
  • 50 hours of community service
  • 10 days immobilization of the vessel
  • Additional conditions, as the court sees fit

Fight Your BUI With an Experienced Defense Attorney

Our firm handles a significant number of drunk boating cases every year. Contact us today to take advantage of our years of experience handling these charges to get the best possible outcome.