What the Law Says About Boating & Drinking

What the Law Says About Boating & Drinking

South Florida is one of the best locations to take a boat out on the water, and because of that, it is all the more important that Floridians be knowledgeable about the state’s laws related to boating. Considering boats are often a venue in which people consume alcoholic beverages, being informed about the laws concerning boating while intoxicated is of the utmost importance.

What happens when a boater is pulled over?

First and foremost, it is important to understand that the police force that oversees the waters is different from the one that patrols the land. These officers abide by different rules, but should not be taken any less seriously. When an officer signals for a boater to stop, the boater is required to do so. They may ask that the engine simply be cut or an anchor be dropped. Once stopped, the officer will board the boat, at which point those on board will need to keep their hands visible, provide all necessary documentation, permit to a safety inspection, and obey the officer’s commands. The vessel will be searched if given probable cause to.

If there has been drinking, the officer may request that the captain take a breathalyzer test. While this request can be denied, doing so may result in a fine of $500 for the operator, or even a criminal misdemeanor if the boater has refused in the past. If the aforementioned fine is not paid, the vessel may later be taken by the Coast Guard. Assuming the boater does take the breathalyzer and is determined to be intoxicated (above 0.8% in Florida), legal actions will be taken.

BUI in Florida

A charge for boating while intoxicated (commonly referred to as a BUI) will require the help of a proven Miami criminal defense attorney. Otherwise, the boater is likely to face unfavorable judgments, ranging from a $1,000 fine and up to 6 months in jail for a first-time conviction and a third-degree felony for a fourth offense. While a first offense will not typically affect one’s driving privileges, it is possible that this information may be shared with the authorities responsible for suspending drivers licenses, who may elect to do just that. In order to protect one’s rights and secure the most favorable outcome in this situation, the guidance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer will be essential.

Are you facing a BUI charge? Contact a Miami criminal defense attorney experienced in handling cases concerning BUI in Florida. Our lawyers are always available to answer any questions you may have.