Operating a vessel while impaired by drugs or alcohol (BUI) is a violation of Florida law. It is illegal to manipulate any vessel, sailboard, water skis, or any other similar device while a person is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, a controlled substance, or a combination of these things. Alcohol is the primary cause of many boating accidents, and it often results in fatalities. Consuming alcohol can lead to poor coordination, blurred vision, impaired judgment, impaired balance, and slower reaction time. A vessel operator suspected of boating under the influence (BUI) in Key West, Islamorada, Marathon, Plantation Key or the Florida Keys must submit to sobriety tests and a physical or chemical test to determine the alcohol content in breath or blood.
When it comes to BUI, a police officer can stop any vessel for nearly any reason. For example, they can do it to check registration and enforce safety regulations. They are not required to have probable cause to stop and board a vessel, unlike with DUI offense.
In Key West, Islamorada, Marathon, Plantation Keys and the Florida Keys, a vessel operator is presumed to be BUI, under the influence, if their blood- or breath-alcohol level is at or above .08. If blood alcohol concentration is between .05 and .08, it can also be an indicator that a person is impaired, if it is accompanied by other supporting evidence of impairment.
Any person under 21 years of age who is found to have a breath-alcohol level of .02 or higher and operates or is in actual physical control of a vessel is in violation of the law in Key West, Islamorada, Marathon, Plantation Key and the Florida Keys.
For a first BUI offense, people can expect to pay fines between $250 and $500. Also, they may be required to spend up to six months in jail. If it is their second offense of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they will be obligated to pay fines of between $500 and $1,000. Additionally, second-time BUI can lead to spending up to nine months imprisoned. Penalties for a third BUI offense outside of 10 years of a prior include being obligated to spend between $1,000 and $2,500 on fines, and up to one year of imprisonment. A third violation of boating under the influence within 10 years of a prior is considered a felony, and a person will be required to spend up to five years in prison. Finally, if someone commits the fourth BUI offense, he or she will face felony charges, no matter the time between offenses.
If you are arrested or charged with Boating Under the Influence, BUI, there can be serious legal consequences. Also, keep in mind that BUI charge in Florida can have a long-lasting impact on your finances, freedom, and employment. In these situations, it is crucial to hire a defense attorney to defend you every step of the way. Please contact My Key West Lawyer to talk about your case.
The Florida Keys Criminal & Traffic Attorneys at the My Key West Lawyer serve the entire Florida Keys, including Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and Key West.