If you have been charged with BUI or boating under the influence, you can expect the case to be aggressively prosecuted. The good news is that a BUI arrest does not always lead to a conviction. In many of these cases, the charges are dropped altogether or reduced to another charge that is far less serious than BUI.
If you were arrested in Pinellas County or the Tampa Bay area for boating while under the influence (“BUI”) of an alcoholic beverage or while impaired by prescription medication or illegal drugs contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.
An arrest for boating under the influence or drunk boating (BUI) in Florida can lead to a criminal record, probation, possible incarceration, fines, court costs, community service, alcohol courses, and your boat being impounded.
For purposes of enhancement of criminal penalties and administrative driver license suspensions in a subsequent Florida DUI case, BUI counts as a prior conviction for driving under the influence (DUI). Likewise, if you have previously been convicted of DUI, your BUI sentence can be enhanced as provided below.
BUI Provisions and Penalties
Pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 327.35, Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is illegal in the State of Florida. At trial, BUI must be proven in one of two ways:
- When the person who operated a boat within the State of Florida is under the influence of alcoholic beverages or a chemical substance when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired; or
- When the person has a blood-alcohol level (BAL) of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or
- When the person has a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
The sentence can be enhanced if the operator of the boat has previously been convicted of BUI, DUI, DWI (or any other similar alcohol-related or drug-related offense) in the State of Florida, or in any other state.
Any conviction for BUI would include probation with a special condition that the defendant completes a substance abuse course which may include evaluation and any recommended follow up treatment, at least 50 hours of community service, and at least ten-day impoundment or immobilization of the boat or vessel.
BUI Fines and Possible Incarceration
First BUI Conviction
- Fine of not less than $250 or more than $500.
- Imprisonment of not more than six (6) months.
Second BUI Conviction
- Fine of not less than $500 or more than $1,000.
- Not more than nine (9) months.
Third BUI Violation outside of 10 Years of a Prior
- Fine of not less than $1,000 or more than $2,500.
- Imprisonment not more than twelve (12) months
Third BUI Violation within 10 Year of a Prior (Felony in the Third Degree)
- Imprisonment of not more than five (5) years.
Fourth or Subsequent BUI (Felony in Third Degree
- Fine of not less than $1,000.
BUI Causing or Contributing to Property Damage
- Misdemeanor in the First Degree;
- Imprisonment of up to twelve (12) months.
BUI Causing or Contributing to Serious Bodily Injury to Another (Felony in the Third Degree)
Second Degree – BUI Manslaughter – BUI Causing or Contributing to Death can be charged as a Felony in the Second Degree punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in Florida State Prison.
First Degree- BUI Manslaughter – BUI Causing or Contributing to Death has the same elements as BUI Manslaughter in the Second Degree except that the operator of the boat also at the time of the accident, knew or should have known that the accident occurred (although it is not necessary that the operator know that the accident resulting in injury or death) and failed to give information or render aid.
Special BUI enhancement applies if:
The person is guilty of BUI and had a blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level of 0.20 or above, or if the boat operator had a passenger who was under the age of 18.
First BUI Conviction:
- Fine of not less than $500 or more than $1,000;
- Imprisonment up to nine (9) months.
Second BUI Conviction:
- Fine of not less than $1,000 or more than $2,000.
- Imprisonment up to twelve (12) months.
Third BUI Conviction:
- Fine of not less than $2,000 for a third or subsequent conviction.
Second Within 5 Years of a Prior
- Imprisonment of not less than 10 days (with at least 48 hours of the confinement being consecutive).
- 30 day Impoundment or immobilization of the boat or vessel
Third or Subsequent Conviction within 10 years of a Prior
- Imprisonment of not less than 30 days (with at least 48 hours of the confinement being consecutive).
- 90 day Impoundment or immobilization of the boat or vessel
Residential Alcohol Treatment In Lieu of Imprisonment
Florida law provides, the court has the power allow the defendant to serve all or any portion of a term of imprisonment to which the defendant has been sentenced pursuant to this section in a residential alcoholism treatment program or a residential drug abuse treatment program. Any time spent in such a program must be credited by the court toward the term of imprisonment.