Boating under the influence is a serious charge in Florida. Although it is not illegal to consume alcohol before operating a vessel if you are over 21 years old, it is illegal to drive a boat if your blood-alcohol level is 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, or your breath-alcohol level is 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
As outlined in Florida Statutes Section 327.35, it is also illegal to drive a boat if you are “under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in s. 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893, when affected to the extent that (your) normal faculties are impaired.”
If you are facing BUI charges in Florida, your first call should be to a criminal lawyer. Michael D. Leader is a DUI attorney in Fort Lauderdale who will aggressively represent your interests.
Call 954-523-2020 today to schedule a free initial consultation with Leader & Leader P.A. Until then, read on to learn the answers to four FAQs about boating under the influence in Florida:
- How common is boating under the influence in Florida?
According to a 2014 report from the U.S. Coast Guard, there are more boating accidents in Florida than in any other state. In 2014, there were at least 581 boating crashes in Florida, 62 of which caused fatalities. This death toll was the highest since 2010. Although not all boating accidents in Florida involve alcohol, it is the leading factor in more than 20 percent of boat accidents in the United States.
- What should I do if I face BUI charges in Florida?
If you are facing BUI charges in Florida, you should contact a criminal lawyer as soon as possible. Depending on the facts surrounding your arrest, it may be possible to get the charges dropped or to reduce the charge to a less serious offense.
- Do officers ever make mistakes during BUI arrests?
Just like DUI arrests, officers sometimes make mistakes when they arrest boaters for BUI. The law is somewhat subjective in that a person cannot drive a boat if he or she is under the influence of alcoholic beverages or certain chemical or controlled substances that impair his or her normal faculties. An officer may determine that the person’s “normal faculties” have been impaired even if he or she has not taken a blood or breath test.
- When can officers legally stop a boat?
Officers can stop a boat if the vessel is speeding or if they have probable cause to believe the boat is in violation of another regulation. Officers can also stop boats to conduct random inspections related to fishing compliance, safety registration and equipment checks.
The bad news is, it is often more difficult to challenge the initial stop or detention in BUI cases as vessels can be stopped for safety checks and other reasons that are fairly vague and broad. However, it is not uncommon to see less experienced DUI officers or mistakes in the procedure that can help win the case in BUI matters.
If you were arrested for BUI in Florida, there may be a defense that works in your favor – even if you failed the blood or breath test. Michael D. Leader is a DUI attorney in Fort Lauderdale who is ready to represent your interests. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 954-523-2020.