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Boating Under The Influence (BUI)

Florida leads the nation in the annual number of fatal boating accidents. Approximately 33% of all boating accidents occur due to alcohol or drugs, and in more than 50% of those cases, the individual either fell overboard or capsized the boat. Florida has attempted to alleviate the harm that operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can cause by enacting a series of strict Boating Under the Influence (BUI) laws.

Under Florida BUI law, it is illegal to operate a boat or any other watercraft vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A driver over the age of 21 with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher will be guilty of BUI in Florida. If the driver is under 21 years of age a blood alcohol level over 0.02% will constitute a criminal BUI offense. Studies have shown that once a driver’s blood alcohol level reaches these limits, the driver’s balance, vision, judgment, reflexes, and coordination will become impaired. In addition, many factors inherent to boating, such as vibrations, wind, sun, rocking, and heat can intensify the effects of drugs and alcohol.

Unlike driving an automobile, an officer does not need to suspect you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol to pull you over and search the boat. State boating officials can order you to stop and board the boat to check a boat’s registration or to conduct a safety investigation. While on the boat if the officer suspects there are any alcohol or drugs being consumed he can place you under arrest for BUI. Thus, you may receive a BUI citation even if you were not driving recklessly and the officer had no reason to suspect any illegal activity before stopping your boat.

Once an officer stops your vehicle and has reason to believe you are driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he will conduct an investigation. The investigation is very similar to a DUI investigation. The officer will request that you participate in a field sobriety and breathalyzer test. Often, the officer will bring you to the shore to conduct the field sobriety test, such as the one-leg-stand or finger-to-nose exercise. If you participated in a field sobriety test and were arrested for BUI, it is important that you contact a Tampa BUI lawyer immediately. Normally, after being on a boat for an extended period of time you will have “sea legs,” which can hinder your balance and make it nearly impossible to perform a field sobriety exercise. Unfortunately, many people are falsely accused of boating while under the influence or drugs or alcohol because of this reason.

Contact An Experienced Florida BUI Attorney

If you have been arrested for BUI you could be subjected to imprisonment, fines, probation, community service, and/or mandatory drug/alcohol treatment. In addition, your boat may be impounded and your boating license can be suspended or terminated. That is why it is important that you hire an experienced Tampa BUI attorney if you have been arrested for a BUI. At Florida Law Advisers, P.A. our attorneys have years of experience helping clients defend against BUI charges. Our Tampa BUI attorneys will carefully study every detail of your case to develop a comprehensive strategy to either reduce the charges or have them dropped entirely. If you have been arrested for BUI contact us today by telephone, website form, or email to speak with a Tampa BUI lawyer at our firm.

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