What are the penalties for boating under the influence (BUI) in Florida?

man driving a boat

In Florida, if you operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater, you will be charged with driving while under the influence (DUI). However, Florida law not only makes it illegal to operate a vehicle while intoxicated but also makes it illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Similar to a DUI, boating under the influence (BUI) carries harsh penalties. BUIs can result in a lengthy jail sentence, vessel impoundment, and hefty fines. That being said, when facing criminal charges, you need a talented Escambia County Criminal Defense Lawyer to defend your rights and interests. Continue to follow along to learn about BUI penalties and discover how our determined team members can help you avoid harsh penalties.

What is boating under the influence (BUI) in Florida?

In Florida, if you operate a vessel with a BAC of 0.08% or greater, you can be convicted of boating under the influence (BUI). Florida’s BUI law applies to all types of boats and vessels. Under the law, a vessel is defined as any “watercraft, barge, and airboat, other than a seaplane on the water, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.” If you have been charged with BUI, the severity of your penalties depends on several factors including whether you have any prior BUI or DUI convictions, your BAC level, whether you are under 18 years old, and whether you caused or contributed to an accident involving damage, injury, or fatality. However, the court will also consider any other aggravating factors to determine the penalties for this criminal offense.

What are the potential penalties for this offense?

If this is your first offense BUI, it will likely be classified as a second-degree misdemeanor. This offense is punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and a maximum jail sentence of six months. If this is your second offense, it will be considered a second-degree misdemeanor and carry a maximum jail sentence of nine months and up to $2,000 in fines. If this offense occurred within five years of a BUI or DUI conviction, you will face a minimum ten-day jail sentence and mandatory vessel impoundment for 30 days. If this is your third conviction within ten years of a BUI or DUI offense, it will be a third-degree felony. This is punishable by $5,000 in fines and up to five years in jail with a minimum of 30 days in jail. It’s imperative to keep in mind that having a high BAC level, having underage passengers, or being involved in accidents causing property damage, injury, or death can lead to harsher penalties. With such significant penalties, you need a qualified lawyer on your side who can advocate on your behalf.

If you are facing a BUI charge, it is advisable to retain the legal representation of an experienced Escambia County criminal defense lawyer. The consequences of a BUI are serious. Our law firm can assist you in examining all potential defenses to increase your chances of obtaining reduced or dismissed charges. We will guide you through this complex legal process to help you achieve optimal results.