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Boating Under the Influence

Florida Statute 327.35 Boating Under the Influence 


Florida is known for its beaches and waterways, and of course that leads to many people getting out on their boats. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, in 2013, Florida led the nation with 896,632 registered vessels. FWC also estimates that there are up to one million non-registered vessels actively using the waterways (2013 Boating Accidents Statistical Report). That’s a lot of boaters.

For this very reason, Boating Under the Influence (“BUI”) is taken very seriously. According to Florida Statute 327.35, a person is guilty of BUI if the person is operating the vessel and is under the influence of alcoholic beverages or any chemical substance: (1) which impairs a person’s normal faculties; or (2) has a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 or more.

One major difference between a DUI and a BUI, is that the officers do NOT have to have probable cause to pull you over for a BUI. Officers can perform random inspections for things such as safety equipment, registration, and fishing permits. If when pulled over for an inspection, the officer suspects you are Boating Under the Influence, he can begin an investigation.

What are the penalties for BUI? 

  • For a first conviction of BUI, a person is facing a fine between $500 and $1,000 as well as up to six (6) months in jail.
  • For a second conviction of BUI, a person can face a fine between $1,000 and $2,000 as well as up to nine (9) months in jail.
  • If a person is convicted of a third violation more than ten (10) years after a prior conviction, said person can face a fine between $2,000 and $5,000 and up to twelve (12) months in jail.
  • A conviction for a third violation within ten (10) years of a prior conviction, is a third degree felony. A third degree felony is punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.
  • For a fourth or subsequent conviction, the amount of time between convictions does not matter. A fourth or subsequent conviction is always a third degree felony. Pursuant to Florida Statute 327.35(2)(b)(3), the fine cannot be less than $2,000.

Does it change if I caused damage to property or a person?

If you are convicted of a BUI and it is determined that you caused or contributed to causing damage to property or another person, you have committed a misdemeanor of the first degree. This type of charge is punishable by up to one (1) year in jail and a fine up to $1,000.

If it is determined that serious bodily injury was caused, the charges change to a felony of the third degree which is punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.
The penalties grow even worse if you are convicted of BUI manslaughter (death of a human being), if you are convicted of knowingly leaving the scene of an accident, or if you are convicted of a blood alcohol level or breath alcohol level of 0.15 or higher.

Driver's License Suspension

Presently, there is no driver’s license suspension for a BUI conviction.

With over a decade of exclusive criminal defense practice experience in south Florida, you should call Attorney Wayne Richter immediately. Attorney Wayne Richter offers a free consultation where he will go into more depth regarding your charges and the possible penalties. More importantly, Wayne Richter will analyze your case for all possible defenses. Wayne Richter will give you an aggressive, thorough defense. It is important to call as early in the process as possible. Call Wayne Richter today!

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