Boating Under the Influence
Serving Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach and all of Florida
In Florida, you can be arrested for Boating Under the Influence or BUI. Under Florida Statute 327.35(1), BUI offenses are very serious. Because Florida has one of the highest numbers of boat accident deaths, the state mandates harsher penalties for those found guilty of a BUI.
If you have been charged or arrested with a BUI, you can expect the prosecution to act aggressively. But, an arrest does not always mean you will be convicted. By contacting Tony Bennett Law, you can help reduce the likelihood of receiving one of these harsh penalties.
Boating Laws are Different
Most boat owners do not realize that the laws regarding boats and how an offender is handled are much different than vehicles on the street. The police need probable cause to search your vehicle or pull you over for a DUI, but the coast guard does not. They can stop by to make sure you are complying with applicable regulations and even claim that they are there to check:
- If your boat has the proper safety equipment
- If you have fishing permits
- If your boat is registered
- If your boat has reached its cargo limits
Random spot checks by the coast guard are not considered an invasion of your privacy in Florida courts; therefore, if they claim a “spot check” and discover you are boating under the influence, you could be arrested regardless of probably cause.
What Else the Coast Guard Can Do
The coast guard can also:
- Board the Vessel – If you cannot show the boat’s registration, the coast guard official can board your boat. Also, they can do so to perform random safety inspections.
- Search the Vessel – Police need probable cause to search, but if the coast guard official feels that the boat was used for fishing before an inspection, they can open all containers that are found in the boat. Also, they will request to see your life jackets, fire extinguisher, boating registration, etc.
What are the Penalties for a BUI?
If you are found guilty of a BUI, then your BAC was 0.08 percent or higher. Just some of the penalties you could face include:
- 1st Offense – Up to $1,000 fine, 6 months in jail or probation up to 1 year. Drug or alcohol treatment may be required and 50 hours of community service. Boat may be impounded for 10 days.
- 2nd Offense – Up to $2,000 fine, 9 months in jail, 30-day impoundment.
- 3rd Offense – This could be charged as a felony if this conviction occurs within 10 years of any prior convictions. You could face a 90-day impoundment, 30 days in prison, up to one year in prison, and a fine up to $10,000.
Contact Tony Bennett Law Now
If you are suspected of a BUI or you have been arrested, contact Tony Bennett Law now for a consultation. We can help you with your case and possibly avoid conviction. Call to get started with a case evaluation.