The Hudson Law Office
Aggressive DUI Defense
Sarasota and Bradenton (941) 957-0500
Key West (305) 292-8384
Florida State Delegate-National College for DUI Defense
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Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum
Boating Under the Influence in Florida
By Tom Hudson
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 the hoosegow. 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. Regardless of the arresting agency, the case will be heard in the County Court where the alleged offense occurred.
Boating Under the Influence is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and incarceration of up to 6 months for a first conviction.
conviction within ten years can be punished by a fine up to $2,500
and a jail sentence of up to one year.
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. Often it is simply wisest to invoke your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney, rather than to provide evidence which they will use to try to convict you.
In fact, there are no field sobriety tests which have ever been validated for use in boating situations. The pitching and rolling of a boat's deck, and a boater's "sea legs" may prevent any accepted test from being more useful than the officer's educated guess about the sobriety of the boater.
Florida law has special provisions for operators under 21 years of
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 Hudson Law Office.