The Basics Of Boating Under The Influence (BUI)

A lot of people are not aware that boating or riding other watercrafts under the influence of alcohol can lead to your arrest and a criminal charge in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Martin County, St. Lucie County, and all other parts of Florida. If you were charged with Boating Under the Influence you need an experienced Fort Pierce criminal lawyer to fight your case and protect your rights.

Boating Under the Influence is as serious as driving under influence accept the penalties are different. When you are convicted, you may be sent to jail or you may be slammed with a heavy fine and given probation, but unlike a DUI your driver’s license will not be suspended.

Expectation of Privacy on a Vessel

An operator of a boat is given less protection than a driver of a motor vehicle as it relates to a stop because there is less of an expectation of privacy on a vessel than in a vehicle. A law enforcement officer doesn’t need probable cause to stop your boat on the water and can briefly detain you to check for fishing permits, registration certificates and safety equipment. State v. Casal, 410 So.2d 152 (Fla. 1982).

How Is the Operator Determined in a BUI Case?

The Operator or person in charge is the person to get the BUI. Unlike in A DUI, a boat can be operated with no driver. In A BUI the Law Enforcement Officer will look to see if the owner of the boat is on board, if so that person will likely be charged with BUI if they are under the influence. If the Boat owner is not on board, then person who rented the boat, if under the influence will be charged. If no owner or renter is on board, then the person deemed to be in control who is under the influence will be charged.

What Must the State Prove for a BUI Conviction?

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.
  2. While operating the vessel, (defendant)

Give 2a or 2b or both as applicable.

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

Fla. Crim. J. Instr. 28.14

Vessel is defined as: “‘Vessel’ is synonymous with boat as referenced in s. 1(b), Art. VII of the State Constitution and includes every description of watercraft, barge, and airboat, other than a seaplane on the water, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.”

What’s Your Freedom Worth?

The consequences of a BUI conviction are too serious for you to fight the charge yourself. Having an experienced attorney defending your case can mean the difference of a jail sentence. An experienced BUI attorney can negotiate a lesser included offense, can suppress damming evidence, and help you avoid a BUI conviction. Call us now and we will evaluate your case for free. Call 772-579-0347.