In recent years, Florida law enforcement has been cracking down on driving under the influence. That has bled over to boating under the influence charges.
This is more common than you might think, since boating is such a popular recreational activity in our state, and people often enjoy a drink while relaxing on a boat.
Learn more about boating under the influence, and what you should do after a BUI arrest in St. Petersburg or anywhere in Florida from Fletcher + Fletcher, a husband and wife team of career criminal defense attorneys.
Is it illegal to operate a boat while under the influence in Florida?
First thing’s first: yes, it is illegal to operate a boat or vessel while under the influence of alcohol. This is true in Florida, as well as other states throughout the U.S.
This law is outlined in Florida Statute Section 327.35. The statute states that someone can be convicted of a BUI if they are operating a boat on water with:
- Blood alcohol content of .8 percent or higher
- Breath alcohol level of .8 or higher
You can also be arrested and convicted for a BUI if you are impaired by alcohol or another drug to the point that it impedes your ability to safely control a boat.
BUI convictions can occur due to impairment by any type of drug or alcohol – including prescription medications.
What are the Boating Under the Influence penalties in Florida?
Penalties for a BUI can be serious in St. Pete and throughout Florida.
Like a DUI, penalties will increase based on the number of times you have been convicted for boating under the influence in the past.
Boating under the influence penalties can also be affected by a person’s blood alcohol level at the time of arrest, their age, and the injuries and damages they caused to other individuals and property.
BUI penalties in Florida are as follows:
- First conviction: A fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in prison
- Second conviction: A fine of up to $2,000 and up to nine month in prison
- Third conviction: A fine of up to $5,000 and a felony conviction with up to five years in prison if within a 10-year period; or, if not within the 10-year period, then up to 12 months in prison
- Fourth conviction: A fine between $2,000 and $5,000 and a third-degree felony conviction punishable by up to five years in prison
Can I get pulled over for a BUI?
In general, an officer cannot assume you are boating under the influence, and pull you over with the intention of a BUI arrest.
It is more likely you will be pulled over due to:
- Other unsafe boat behavior
- Violating a different law or regulation
An officer might also pull you over to check your registration, ensure you have the proper safety equipment on board, and to ensure you are following fishing regulations.
After you are pulled over is when you may be subject to BUI tests.
What to do after you are arrested for Boating Under the Influence in St. Petersburg
Like any situation, you have the right to remain silent after you are pulled over for a potential BUI arrest in Florida.
Everything you say can be used against you in court, so providing less information can sometimes work in your favor. However, there are times when it is important to speak with officers. If you do engage, then make sure you are polite and cordial.
After the arrest, you should get in touch with a criminal defense attorney who will fight for your rights and your freedom.
Contact Fletcher + Fletcher St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
All hope is not lost if you’re facing boating under the influence charges in St. Pete or surrounding areas in Florida. Fletcher + Fletcher criminal defense attorneys are here to help you defend yourself. We make sure you know your rights, so you can make informed decisions about your case, and we stand nonjudgmentally by your side, every step of the way.
You deserve to be treated with respect. Contact us today to learn more at your free, initial consultation.