BUI: What You Need to Know About Boating and Drinking

Did you know that nearly one-third of all boating fatalities include alcohol; and in over one-half of fatal boating incidents, the victim fell overboard or the boat capsized? So as you can imagine, boating under the influence (BUI) cases are aggressively prosecuted.

Florida law prohibits anyone from operating a boat while impaired. This translates into blood alcohol levels of 0.08 plus; and spring breakers may want to restrict their parties to the shore because there is zero tolerance (0.02) for anyone under 21. 

Those convicted of a BUI will have a criminal record and be required to pay fines and court costs. They may also be required to serve jail time with probation, receive alcohol education and provide community service. Although a BUI will not directly result in the loss or suspension of a motor vehicle license, any BUI or DUI conviction will count as a prior. So, for example, if you have had a DUI, a BUI would be a second infraction, yielding much higher consequences. There is also a Florida Fish and Wildlife law enforcement article which requires a $500 penalty upon refusal of a breath, blood or urine test and also carries a misdemeanor charge.

The shorelines of Florida are currently more vigilantly monitored by federal law enforcement to ensure that boaters are adhering to COVID-19 protocol and are under the jurisdiction of federal law. Federal law enforcement officers have the authority to board and inspect any vessel randomly or for equipment and/or safety compliance, and subsequently remove any vessel and boat captain who they deem to be a risk to public safety.

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