With the summer months approaching many people will take to Florida’s vast and beautiful lakes, rivers, and other waterways for some fun in the sun. Keep in mind though that just because you are on the water and not a road or highway you aren’t immune from being arrested to operating a vessel under the influence. Boating under the influence or BUI is extremely similar to the offense of driving under the influence or DUI. Though BUI is listed under a separate chapter of the Florida Statutes in 327.35, the language used is to describe the offense and the consequences almost mirror that of a DUI.
Potential Penalties for BUI
When you look at the punishment for a BUI it mirrors the punishment of a DUI. For a first offense BUI, you are facing a fine between $500 to $1000 just like a first offense DUI and up to 180 days or 6 months in jail which is again just like a DUI. A person will also have to complete at least 50 hours of community service, instead of a 10 days vehicle impound it is a 10-day vessel impoundment, however, a conviction for BUI does not suspend a person driving license. BUI’s can also be enhanced like DUI’s and punishment can become more serve for having a prior offense, for causing property damage or for having a breath or blood alcohol level above a .15. To enhance a BUI offense from a first offense to a second offense, a prosecutor may use a prior DUI conviction from the State of Florida or any other state.
Field Sobriety Exercises for a BUI
An officer who is conducting a BUI investigation uses a set of exercises commonly referred to as the seated field sobriety exercises (FSE’s). These seated FSE’s include a few crossover exercises used in DUI investigations like the HGN and finger to nose, but also include the palm pat exercise and hand coordination exercise. Though these exercises may have been studied, it is important to point out that none of these exercises are 100% reliable in detecting impairment. Many factors can affect a person’s performance on these tests, nervousness, prior hand or shoulder injuries, the officer provided the wrong instructions for the exercise or the motion of the boat. If you have been arrested for boating under the influence call Meldon Law to schedule a free consultation.
Why Meldon Law?
If you have been arrested for BUI call and speak to one of the attorneys at Meldon Law. There may be potential defenses for your case, such as attacking the stop of your vessel, although sometime FWC officers can conduct random safety checks on a vessel, there still may be an invalid stop. There may also be innocence explanations to explain what the officer’s thought was impairment wasn’t, or maybe you weren’t in actual control of your vessel. Call 352-373-8000 to schedule your free consultation.