IN FLORIDA CAN I GET A DUI ON A BOAT? YES.
Yes, you can get a DUI on a boat in Florida. In Florida, law enforcement officers call it boating under the influence, “BUI”. This rule is governed by Florida Statute 327.35 which states that if a person is the operator of a vessel and has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more they are guilty of boating under the influence. The penalties increase for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th convictions. Also, if the blood-alcohol content is above 0.15, the penalties are enhanced.
Penalties for BUI can include jail time, referral to a drug treatment program, monthly probation reporting, costs of drug treatment and court costs, impoundment of the vessel, and hours of community service.
Not well known is that a conviction for out-of-state DUI, or DWI, or driving with an unlawful blood-alcohol level, or similar drug-related traffic office, is considered a previous conviction in Florida. If injury occurs while the operator of the vessel is under the influence of alcohol, additional penalties apply.
What is also not well known is that under federal law, a BUI arrest can be made for as little as a 0.02 blood-alcohol level.
What if my vessel is anchored?
Under Florida Statute a person can be held responsible for BUI if the person is “in command of” or “in actual physical control of a vessel” while the vessel is “underway”. “Underway” has been defined to mean except when a vessel is anchored, moored, ashore, or aground. So if the vessel is anchored, the operator is probably not going to get a BUI—unless the operator is operating the vessel with the anchor engaged.
Possible punitive damages and confiscation of the vessel.
Where injuries occur as a result of a BUI operator, additional civil penalties can occur as well. The injured person or heirs can seek punitive damages against the operator of the vessel, which are not typically covered by liability insurance. In some cases the vessel itself can be sued and taken from the owner.
INJURED BY DRUNK BOATER? WE ARE MARITIME ATTORNEYS.