BOATING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
With over 1200 miles of beaches, Florida is a boater’s paradise. But beware. A little afternoon sunshine and the smell of alcohol on your breath can land you in jail. As with Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is a serious crime in the Sunshine State. BUI arrests may be made by the Coast Guard, city police, or Fish and Wildlife officers.
1st offense: punishable by a fine of up to $500 and incarceration of up to 6 months.
2nd offense: punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisoned up to 9 months.
3rd offense: A third conviction within ten years can be punished by a fine up to $2,500 and a jail sentence of up to one year.
If the boater causes serious injury or death while boating under the influence, the operator has committed a felony.
Much like the DUI law, a boater who operates any vessel on Florida waters has automatically consented to be tested for the presence of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating substances if requested by a peace officer. Refusal to submit to testing is punishable by a civil penalty of $500 and is also a crime if you have ever been fined for a previous refusal. But also like the DUI law, there is no requirement that you consent to field sobriety tests by the authorities.
Florida law has special provisions for operators under 21 years of age:
It is unlawful for a person under 21 years of age who has any measurable blood alcohol concentration (0.02 or higher) to operate a vessel.
If convicted, those under 21 years of age will be required to complete 50 hours of public service, attend and successfully complete an approved boater education course (even if one has been completed previously), and will lose his or her operating privilege until the public service is completed.
A person under 21 years of age who refuses to submit to a breath test after a warning will be subject to perform 50 hours of community service and may not operate a vessel until completed.
In addition to the above penalties, BUI can result in mandatory education, community service, court costs and impoundment of the vessel.
So if you’re going out for an afternoon on the waves, be smart and take a designated driver, and if you should be stopped, remember The Grieco Defense Firm.