There are few things better than a nice long weekend and taking out the boat for a relaxing day on the water. For most owners, boats are a recreational vehicle used in the commission of fun in the sun, but what happens when the fun turns irresponsible? Drinking and boating, like drinking and driving, is a dangerous combination. Not only can you injure yourself and those in the boat with you, but it could also lead to the accidental death of those not even in your vessel. The last thing you want to do is be responsible for the accidental death of several people.
Florida Statute Section 327.35 Boating Under the Influence
According to Florida Statute Section 327.35, boating is a regulated activity with clearly defined rules. There are also penalties and fines if you are charged with breaking these rules:
- No one with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or greater is lawfully allowed to operate a boat/vessel in Florida.
- The first conviction and violation of these boating regulations could result fine of up to $1000.
- A conviction could also carry a jail sentence of up to 6 months on the first conviction.
- If your blood alcohol level exceeds .15%, you could face increased penalties.
- If while operating a boat you have an accident that was caused by intoxication (boating under the influence) and other persons were seriously injured, you could face felony charges and a prison sentence of up to 5 years.
Boating Under the Influence Crack Down in Florida
Boating under the influence is a serious crime, and it’s the leading cause of deadly boating accidents in the United States, according to the Coast Guard. When injurious boating accidents were analyzed for trends, alcohol usage was in the top five primary causes. Florida has been the leader in alcohol-related boating accidents since 2015.
In an effort to prevent future BUI cases, Florida has adopted boating designated driver campaigns and enacted strict criminal penalties for BUI convictions. The State of Florida means to crack down on BUI cases, so offenders are often surprised by how stringent the penalties can be for a first offense. Also, boating under the influence can lead to both civil and criminal problems for offenders. A boater operating their vessel under the influence can be arrested for criminal infractions and held liable for personal injuries and property damaged in an accident.
Does a BUI Conviction Impact the Driver’s License or Driving Privileges?
While a BUI conviction may not directly harm your driving privileges as it will not show up on your driving record, it can cause problems if you are ever arrested for a DUI. A BUI will enhance your first DUI and cause it to charge as a second offense. The opposite is also true. If you have a DUI and you’re arrested for a BUI, enhancements will enact, causing the first offense BUI to charge as a second offense. It’s important to remember these sentencing enhancements can cause a first offense to become a very serious crime which could make it difficult to receive any leniency or alternative sentencing options.
If you are have been charged with boating under the influence in Florida, you need legal representation to help you fight these criminal charges. While your driver’s license might not be in jeopardy from a BUI, you could face penalty enhancement if you are ever charged in a DUI case. Now is the time to secure legal representation, so one of the attorneys from Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A., can review your case and answer any questions you may have about your situation. Call us at (727) 245-9009 or reach out to us online right now.