Defense of Boating Under the Influence
Tama Beth Kudman is an experienced, knowledgeable and aggressive criminal defense attorney with offices in West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens Florida and New York City, NY. She has extensive experience defending individuals in both State and Federal Court.
Boating Under the Influence- An Overview
In Florida, Boating under the Influence (“BUI”) cases are charged under Florida Statute Section 327.35(1). These cases are treated seriously, in part, because Florida leads the nation in the yearly number of boating deaths. Studies indicate that one third of all recreational boating fatalities involve the use of alcohol. In more than one half of these cases the victim either fell overboard or capsized the boat.
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.
Additionally, 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.
Elements of a BUI Criminal Charge
Although it is not illegal to consume an alcoholic beverage before operating a boat, it is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Similar to DUI, a BUI arrest can occur when either your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or higher, or the law enforcement officer suspects that your normal faculties are impaired due to intoxication or drug impairment. For persons under the age of 21 who operate a boat in Florida the legal limit is 0.02%.
The Coast Guard also enforces a federal law that prohibits BUI. Effective January 13, 1988, boating under the influence (BUI) became a specific federal offense. Boating under the influence arrests made off the U.S. shorelines of Florida are under the jurisdiction of federal authorities.An arrest for Boating Under the Influence (BUI) closer to the shore, or on lakes and rivers are typically made by Florida law enforcement officers and are prosecuted in Florida state courts.
Legal Cause to Stop the Boat
BUI officers can conduct the stop when they have probable cause to believe a boat is violating a regulation or speeding. In certain cases, the BUI officers can stop a boat for a random inspection related to an equipment check, fishing compliance or safety registration.
The officer can ask the operator of the boat to perform a hand-held breath test or complete a series of sobriety exercises, or chemical tests of the boater’s blood, breath or urine.
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.
Related Charges for Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
- Boating Under the Influence (BUI), Florida Statute Section 327.35(1);
- Boating Under the Influence Causing Property Damage or Injury, Florida Statute Section 327.35(3)(a)(b)(c)(1);
- Felony Boating Under the Influence, Florida Statute Section 327.35(2)(b)(1); or 327(2)(b)(3);
- Felony Boating Under the Influence, Section 327.35(3)(a)(b)(c)(2)
The Importance of Experienced Legal Help
No matter what type of criminal allegation you are facing, it is essential to retain experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense counsel. Tama Beth Kudman has been representing individuals accused of committing state and federal crimes for nearly 20 years. Ms. Kudman brings this experience and knowledge to every case that she defends.
Contact Tama Beth Kudman, an experienced, knowledgeable and aggressive criminal defense attorney today for help if you are charged with any crime or if you believe you are under investigation.