At the outset, it is important to note that any person over the age of 21 can operate a vessel without a boating license. Any other person over the age of fourteen may lawfully obtain a license by completing a boater education and safety course. Under Florida Statute § 327.35, a person is guilty of the offense of boating under the influence and is subject to punishment if the person is operating a vessel within this state and is under the influence of alcoholic beverage, chemical substance, or controlled substance to the extent that that the person’s normal faculties are impaired. Impairment is evidenced by a blood alcohol content of 0.08 %.
If Convicted of a BUI you face a fine of $500.00 for the first conviction will be imposed or $100 for a second conviction. For a first conviction you could be imprisonment for not more than six months, and for a second conviction you could be imprisoned for not more than nine months.
On your first conviction, you will be placed on probation for a maximum of one year, and complete a minimum of 50 hours of community service. The vessel that you operated or any one vehicle registered in your name will be impounded and immobilized for 10 days. If you are incarcerated, the impoundment can not occur concurrently with the incarceration.
On your second conviction within 5 years after a prior conviction you will be imprisoned for not less than 10 days. The vessel that you were operating at the time of the BUI or any other vehicle will be impounded for 30 days. This impoundment can not occur concurrently with your incarceration. On your third or subsequent conviction within 10 years of any prior conviction, you will be imprisoned for not less than 30 days. The vessel that you were operating at the time of the BUI or any other vehicle will be impounded for 90 days. This impoundment can not occur concurrently with your incarceration.
If, while boating under the influence, a person by reason of such operation causes or contributes to causing damage to the property or person of another, then he or she commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.
If the driver causes serious bodily injury to another he or she commits a felony of the third degree. If the driver causes the death of any human being he or she commits BUI manslaughter and commits a felony of the second degree or of the first degree if at the time of the accident the driver knew or should have known that the accident occurred and failed to give information and render aid as required.
If you own, but were not operating, the vessel when the BUI occurred you may submit the police report to the court indicating that the vessel was stolen at the time of the offense or documentation of purchasing the vessel after the offense occurred. If the court finds that information sufficient, the order to impound will be dismissed and the owner of the vessel will not incur any costs.
There are many defenses available to a person accused of a BUI. If you have been arrested or accused of a BUI contact Anthony Rickman for a free consultation.