What is Boating Under the Influence (BUI) in Florida?

In Florida, Boating Under the Influence (BUI) can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on how many prior offenses you have. For example, if this is your first offense, or you only have one prior BUI, it will be a misdemeanor.

If you are charged with your third BUI within 10 years of your previous conviction, or if this is your 4th or subsequent offense, it is a felony.

 

What must the State prove to find me guilty?

To prove the crime of Boating Under the Influence, the State must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The Defendant operated a vessel.

  2. While operating the vessel, the Defendant:

a. was under the influence of alcoholic beverages, a chemical substance, or a controlled substance to the extent that his/her normal faculties were impaired; OR

b. had a blood/breath-alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol

As you can see, there are really two ways the State can prove your guilt: (1) using a breath/blood test, if one exists; or (2) showing your normal faculties were impaired by alcohol or drugs.

What are your "normal faculties?"

They include, but are not limited to, your ability to:

  • See

  • Hear

  • Walk

  • Talk

  • Judge distances

  • Drive an automobile

  • Make judgments

  • Act in emergencies

  • Mental/physical acts of our daily lives

What does "operate" mean?

 

“Operate” means to be in charge of or in command of or in actual physical control of a vessel upon the waters of this state, or to exercise control over or to have responsibility for a vessel’s navigation or safety while the vessel is underway upon the waters of this state, or to control or steer a vessel being towed by another vessel upon the waters of the state.

What is Breath or Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)?

In you are arrested for BUI, law enforcement will ask you to submit to a breath or blood test to confirm your guilt. If you agree to take the test, law enforcement will ask you to provide two breath samples into a machine. This machine will calculate your BAC and print out a report. The results on this test can make or break your case.

  • If your BAC is over .08, you are presumed to be legally impaired.

  • If your BAC is over .05 but less than .08, there is no presumption that you were or were not impaired.

  • If your BAC is  .05 or less, you are presumed NOT to be under the influence to the extent your normal faculties are impaired.

Please click here to learn more about BUI punishments and sanctions.

If you are a loved one has been charged with this serious crime, please contact us today for a free consultation!