BOATING UNDER THE INFLUENCE 327.35
Florida has thousands of square miles of beautiful water ways filled with
aquatic wildlife, sportsman, commercial, and recreational boaters. To
protect those interests, under Florida Statute 327.35(1) Local, County,
and State aggressively investigate and prosecute laws relating to boater
safety as well as Boating Under the Influence of Alcohol (BUI). The United
States Coast Guard also enforces federal laws relating to boating safety
and BUI. In Florida, a person is guilty of BUI if at the time they are
operating a vessel:
- Their blood-alcohol level is .08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.
- Their breath-alcohol level is .08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters
- The person is under the influence of an alcoholic beverage to the extent
his/her normal faculties are impaired.
- The person is under the influence of a chemical substance in F.S. 877.111
to the extent his/her normal faculties are impaired.
- Or, the person is under the influence of a controlled substance under chapter
893 to the extent his/her normal faculties are impaired.
AUTHORITY TO STOP A VESSEL
Law enforcement officers do not need probable cause for the random stopping
and brief detention of motorboats for the limited purpose of
checking fishing permits, registration certificates and safety equipment.
State v. Casal, 410 So.2d 152 (Fla. 1982)
The penalties for BUI are severe. They include probation, monetary fines,
vessel impoundment, and jail. In the case of repeat offenders, property
damage, serious bodily injury and death, the penalties escalate in severity
from jail time to prison.
10 TIPS FOR WATER SAFETY AND AVOIDING BUI
Boating, fishing, and other water sports are fun in their own right. Excessive
consumption of alcohol can turn a great day on the water in to the tragedy
of a lifetime.
Consider these alternatives to using alcohol while on the water:
- At least one person capable of operating the vessel should remain alcohol free.
- Take along a variety of cool drinks: water, iced tea, soda, lemonade or
- Bring plenty of food and snacks.
- Ensure that the vessel is outfitted with all required safety equipment.
- Limit your trip to a reasonable time to avoid fatigue.
- If you do consume alcohol give yourself enough time to sober up before
continuing your journey.
- Be mindful that even if the Captain/Operator is not drinking intoxicated
passengers are at greater risk for injuries.
- Keep constant situational awareness of changing water and weather conditions.
- Never assume that another boater will know the rules of the water. You
might have the right of way but sometimes it’s better to stand down
and avoid an accident.
- Always check and maintain that all vessel equipment is in proper working order.
IN THE EVENT YOU ARE ARRESTED FOR BUI
- Remain calm.
- Be prepared to produce registration, fishing permits, and safety equipment.
- Pay attention to the officer’s request and focus on complying.
- While you do have the right to remain silent, you should not take that
as an opportunity litigate the case with the officer.
- Remember you are being evaluated on how you perform these multiple tasks
under the pressure of a possible arrest.
Generally, once the investigation has started, it will likely result in
your arrest. Following the above advice is not guarantee that you will
win your case, but it will help your attorney defend you to the best of
his or her ability.
If you have been charged with BUI in Sarasota, Florida, your case will
require a knowledgeable and aggressive Sarasota DUI defense lawyer. At
The Law Office of Wyndel G. Darville, PLLC, my goal is to help you reduce
the penalties you face and / or have your case dismissed. The prosecution
will work to provide enough evidence to have you convicted with the maximum
You must take action right away to ensure the best possible case outcome.
During a free case evaluation, I can discuss the events that took place
during your boating stop and determine whether you are facing a lawful arrest.