Boating is an activity Floridians can enjoy all year round. Boating provides a great form of relaxation and in some cases, drinking alcohol is part of the relaxing atmosphere. However, anyone operating a boat should be careful when mixing alcohol with the activity. Boating while under the influence is against the law in Florida, and it can have significant consequences for anyone convicted of the offense. Below are four facts about BUIs in Florida that everyone should know.
DUIs vs. BUIs
Many people think that a BUI charge is identical to a DUI charge in Florida, but the two do have their differences. Due to the mechanical differences between a motor vehicle and a boat, Florida does have a separate and specific statute for boating under the influence.
The operator of a motor vehicle charged with a DUI is typically the person sitting behind the wheel, or that had physical control of the vehicle. Boats are different, because there may have been no one sitting in the operator’s seat or even steering the boat at the time of an incident. As such, the person responsible for navigating the boat will typically be determined to be the operator of the boat. When there are questions surrounding who was actually operating the boat, typically the owner or renter of the boat is considered the operator.
BUI Stops vs. DUI Stops
When a police officer pulls a driver over for a suspected DUI, they must have reasonable cause to do so. This means they cannot pull a driver for any reason, but must observe suspicious behavior before pulling a driver over. This is not true with suspected BUIs, though. Police officers can stop vessels at any time to conduct an administrative inspection, which involves asking for the operator’s identification and the boat’s registration.
Legal BAC for Boating
Similarly to the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for driving a car, the legal BAC limit for operating a boat is 0.08 percent. Anyone that is found to be operating a boat while over this limit may face a BUI charge.
Penalties for BUIs in Florida
BUIs are considered a serious misdemeanor offense and the penalties are very similar to those for individuals convicted of a DUI. Those charged with a first offense may face a fine between $500 and $1,000, up to six months in jail, or both. The penalties for subsequent offenses are much worse, and a person will likely spend time in jail if they are convicted of a second or third BUI.
Facing BUI Charges? Our Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyers can Help
BUI charges are very common in Florida and they have very serious consequences for those convicted. If you are facing BUI charges, our Orlando criminal defense lawyers at O’Mara Law Group can help with your case. Call us today at (407) 634-6604 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and to learn more about the strong defenses we will use in your case.