Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Florida

 

Many South Florida residents and tourists own or rent boats to enjoy the open waters. However, many people are unaware that it is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol, chemical or controlled substances and are subject to similar penalties as driving under the influence of a motor vehicle. Any prior conviction for driving under the influence of a motor vehicle will enhance a BUI penalty. For example, a person convicted of one DUI who commits one BUI can be charged for a BUI 2nd offense. Pursuant to Florida Statute 327.35, the penalties for BUI are as follows:

Definition Boating Under the Influence

To prove the crime of Boating Under the Influence, the State must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant operated a vessel and
  2. While operating the vessel, Defendant

    1. was under the influence of alcohol, a chemical substance or a controlled substance to the extent that his or her normal faculties were impaired, or;
    2. had a blood or breath alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath. 

 

Penalties for BUI 1st Offense

  • Jail: Minimum 0 days to a Maximum of 6 months in the county jail
  • Fine: $500 to $1,000
  • Probation: Mandatory probation up to 1 year
  • Community Service: 50 hours
  • Mandatory Substance Abuse Course and Possible Substance Abuse Evaluation and Treatment
  • Vehicle Impoundment: 10 day impoundment of the vessel or any one vehicle registered in the defendant’s name 

Penalties for BUI 2nd Offense Outside of 5 years of a prior BUI Conviction

  • Jail: Minimum of 0 days to a Maximum of 9 months in the county jail
  • Fine: $1,000 to $2,000
  • Probation: Mandatory probation up to 1 year
  • Community Service: Not mandatory
  • Mandatory Substance Abuse Course and Possible Substance Abuse Evaluation and Treatment.
  • Vehicle Impoundment: 10 day impoundment of the vessel or any one vehicle registered in the defendant’s name.

Penalties for BUI 2nd Offense within 5 years of a prior BUI Conviction

  • Jail: Minimum of 10 days to a Maximum of 9 months in the county jail
  • Fine: $1,000 to $2,000
  • Probation: Mandatory probation up to 1 year
  • Community Service: Not mandatory
  • Mandatory Substance Abuse Course and Possible Substance Abuse Evaluation and Treatment.
  • Vehicle Impoundment: 30 day impoundment of the vessel or any one vehicle registered in the defendant’s name.

Penalties for a BUI 3rd Offense Outside of Ten Years from the 2nd BUI Conviction

  • Jail: Minimum of 0 days to a Maximum of 12 months in the county jail
  • Fine: $2,000 to $5,000
  • Probation: Mandatory probation up to 1 year.
  • Community Service: Not mandatory
  • Mandatory Substance Abuse Course and Possible Substance Abuse Evaluation and Treatment.
  • Vehicle Impoundment: 10 day impoundment of the vessel or any one vehicle registered in the defendant’s name.

Penalties for a BUI 3rd Offense within Ten Years of the 2nd BUI conviction 

  • Jail: Minimum of 30 days in county jail to a Maximum of 5 years in state prison. This is a 3rd degree felony.
  • Fine: $2,000 to $5,000
  • Probation: Mandatory probation up to 5 years.
  • Community Service: Not mandatory
  • Mandatory Substance Abuse Course and Possible Substance Abuse Evaluation and Treatment.
  • Vehicle Impoundment: 90 day impoundment of the vessel or any one vehicle registered in the defendant’s name. 

*The date of the first BUI conviction date or arrest date does not matter. For example, a person who is convicted of BUI in 1985, who is then convicted of a 2nd BUI in 2008 and arrested for a third BUI in 2014 can be charged with BUI 3rd within 10 years. 

BUI 4th Offense or More Penalties

  • Jail: Minimum of 30 days if the 3rd BUI conviction is within 10 years of the 4th BUI arrest, otherwise there is no minimum jail time. Maximum of 5 years in state prison. This is a 3rd degree felony.
  • Fine: Minimum $2,000
  • Probation: Mandatory probation up to 5 years.
  • Community Service: Not mandatory
  • Mandatory Substance Abuse Course and Possible Substance Abuse Evaluation and Treatment.
  • Vehicle Impoundment: Either 10 day impoundment or 90 day impoundment of the vessel or any one vehicle registered in the defendant’s name depending on if the 3rd BUI convictions was within 10 years of the 4th BUI arrest. 

For any BUI conviction, the court may require the defendant to serve any term of imprisonment in a residential drug or alcohol treatment program, with any time spent credited toward the sentence of imprisonment. 

Enhanced BUI

An enhanced BUI occurs when the operator of the vessel had a breath or blood alcohol level of .15 or higher or if the vessel contained a person under the age of 18. The range of fines and maximum imprisonment are higher for enhanced BUIs. 

  • Enhanced BUI first offense: The fine imposed must be a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $2,000, and the maximum amount of imprisonment is 9 months in the county jail.
  • Enhanced BUI second offense: The fine imposed must be a minimum of $2,000 and a maximum of $4,000, and the maximum amount of imprisonment is 1 year in the county jail.
  • Enhanced BUI third offense or more: The fine imposed must be a minimum of $4,000. The maximum amount of imprisonment is 5 years in state prison. 

* It is important to note that only the instant offense is required to enhance the penalties. In other words, a person convicted of a normal BUI who is then charged with enhanced BUI second offense will be subject to the enhanced BUI second offense penalties. 

Definition Boating Under the Influence

To prove the crime of Boating Under the Influence, the State must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt: 

  1. Defendant operated a vessel and
  2. While operating the vessel, Defendant

    1. Was under the influence of alcohol, a chemical substance or a controlled substance to the extent that his or her normal faculties were impaired, or
    2. Had a blood or breath alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath. 

Contact Us

If you have been charged or arrested for Boating Under the Influence, in Palm Beach County, Broward County or Martin County contact a
Palm Beach criminal defense attorney from Bottari & Doyle at (561)-588-2781for a free consultation.