Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Boating Under the Influence – BUI

With so many waterways around the Jacksonville area, many law enforcement agencies patrol looking for people who are boating under the influence. The agencies who initially stop your boat are not the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, but the United States Coast Guard or Florida Fish and Wildlife.

There are certain procedures that must be followed for a boating under the influence investigation in Jacksonville and these agencies do not always follow the law. That is why it is so important to consult with a Jacksonville BUI Attorney to discuss your case.

To prove the crime of boating under the influence in Florida, the state attorney’s office must prove that you were operating a vessel and while operating that vessel, you were under the influence of alcoholic beverages or a controlled substance to the extent your normal faculties were impaired or had a blood alcohol level of .08 or more. A vessel is a boat that is subject to being licensed for operation and includes all watercraft, barges, and airboats on the water used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on the water. Normal faculties are your ability to walk, talk, see, hear, judge distances, drive the boat, and make judgments. “Operating” the boat means that you were in charge of, in command of, or in actual physical control of the boat on the waters of Florida.

If convicted of boating under the influence in Jacksonville, there are certain minimum punishments under Florida law. You will be placed on BUI probation to complete certain conditions. You will have to pay a fine, go to a substance abuse course (in Jacksonville that is DUI school), complete 50 hours of community service, and immobilize your vessel that was the subject of the BUI for 10 days. An important distinction between DUI and BUI is that if you are convicted of Boating Under the Influence, your driver’s license will not be suspended. If you are convicted of subsequent BUI charges, the penalties will escalate.

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