Serving Clients Throughout the Tampa Bay Area 
Free Consultations Available
alcoholic drink on boat

What are the Penalties for Boating Under the Influence in FL?

A Closer Look at Florida’s BUI Laws

Also referred to as “BUI,” boating under the influence is a common offense in Florida. A primary reason for this is that residents and tourists alike visit Florida’s beautiful bodies of water throughout the year, and typically bring booze to sip while cruising. Although it may seem harmless to crack open a beer and enjoy the waters, it is important to know the penalties if you arrested and charged with a BUI.

Under Florida Statutes Section 327.35, you may be found guilty of boating under the influence if you operate a vessel and:

  • Are under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance outlined in s. 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893, to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired
  • Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or
  • Your breath-alcohol level is .08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath

For clarification, the term “vessel” encompasses boats, watercrafts, barges, and airboats, other than a seaplane on the water, used as a means of transportation on water.

What Are Penalties for BUI under Florida Law?

If you are captain of the boat, the safest choice is to avoid alcohol consumption. Don’t be fooled, you can get arrested and charged for BUI on the water just as fast as you can on land. If you get convicted of this crime, you will suffer the same penalties as those who are found guilty of DUI. Convictions involving a BAC of .08 or higher are subject to the following punishments:

  • First conviction: $500 to $1,000 fines and up to 6 months in jail
  • Second conviction: $1,000 to $2,000 fines and up to 9 months in jail
  • Third conviction (committed within 10 years of prior BUI conviction): Third-degree felony charge punishable by up to $5,000 fines and 5 to 10 years in prison
  • Third conviction (committed more than 10 years of prior BUI conviction): $2,000 to $5,000 fines and up to 12 months in jail
  • Fourth or subsequent conviction: Third-degree felony charge punishable by $2,000 to $5,000 fines and5 to 10 years in prison

If your BAC was .15 or higher, or a person under 18 years old was in the vessel at the time of your alleged BUI, your penalties may be the following:

  • First conviction: $1,000 to $2,000 fines and up to 9 months in jail
  • Second conviction: $2,000 to $4,000 fines and up to 12 months in jail

Arrested for BUI? You Deserve Powerhouse Advocacy.

It is easier than you may think to get a BUI in Florida, as law enforcement is equally vigilant on the water as on land. Similar to DUI stops, you may be asked to perform field sobriety exercises, which may include the following FSE’s:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN)
  • Finger to Nose

Due to the constraints of doing FSE’s on a boat, not all the FSE’s you may be asked to perform are the same as those during a DUI investigation. In addition, an officer may ask you to perform non-standardized field sobriety tests, such as hand coordination and hand pat tests. These tests are difficult for even a sober person to perform. Thus, if you were accused of boating under the influence in St. Petersburg, Anita can provide the aggressive advocacy your case relies on. The earlier you begin your defense, the better.

Schedule a free consultation online or by calling (727) 610-8933 to discuss your case!

The content in this blog is for general information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This blog content is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.