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Can you drink while driving a boat in Florida?

Is it illegal to operate a boat while drinking alcohol in Florida?

Fort Myers, FL – Drunk driving laws technically cover the operation of any kind of motor vehicle, even if the laws vary slightly by state. Because boats have motors and the possibility of causing property damage and injuries, boating while intoxicated is illegal in every jurisdiction in the country, including Florida. A person who is charged with the crime of BUI will essentially face the same kinds of serious penalties as a drunk driver . BUI charges and penalties Anyone who is found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while operating their boat will be charged with a crime called BUI , short for boating under the influence. The legal limit for a person’s blood or breath alcohol concentration is .08 while boating, the same as driving a car. Police officers are authorized to stop someone based on other offenses or their driving pattern, and start an investigation to determine if they believe the person is intoxicated by observing their appearance and behavior, or other evidence such as the presence of open containers of alcohol in the boat. The penalties for boating under the influence are essentially the same as a DUI case given to a driver. These can include fines of between $500 and $1000, probation, community service hours, and a license suspension. These penalties can be increased if the defendant has prior BUI or DUI charges. There may also be felony BUI charges if the defendant caused significant property damage, injuries to other people, or fatalities. The suspect can have their boat temporarily impounded, and they will have to pay to get it back. Defending against a BUI charge Because these penalties are serious, anyone who has been charged will need to find a way to create a defense. Lawyers who are experienced in dealing with drunk driving and boating cases know how to look for gaps in the state’s evidence and certain improper procedures. If these mistakes are present, the defense lawyer can potentially have important parts of the state’s case excluded under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. constitution. Defense lawyers are also familiar with various court procedures such as negotiation with prosecutors, which can make a large difference in a person’s sentence. In some cases, the defense attorney may even be able to get a BUI charge dismissed if there is insufficient evidence or serious problems with the state’s case. Getting help from an attorney after an arrest Anyone who has been arrested and charged with DUI should retain a defense lawyer to protect their rights and review their case. Michael M. Raheb is an experienced criminal defense attorney who assists clients in the Fort Myers area. Firm contact info: The Law Offices of Michael M. Raheb, P.A. 2423 First Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901 866-949-0888

March 10, 2021 Tags: boating under the influence, bui laws, criminal defense

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New Jersey Boating DWI Penalties — N.J.S.A. 12:7-46

crashed boat

In New Jersey the traffic offense of driving while intoxicated (DWI) is not limited to motor vehicles on the road. It can also apply to boats operating on the waterways surrounding New Jersey. Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) or Boating Under The Influence (BUI) are just as dangerous as a person driving recklessly on a street. A boat operator who may be impaired is not only endangering themselves, but also other boaters, jet-skiers, swimmers and anyone else who might be on the water at the time of the infraction.

Lawful Operation Of A Boat In New Jersey

To lawfully operate a boat in the New Jersey waterways, they first must complete a New Jersey State Police certified coarse in boating safety and receive a New Jersey Boating Safety Course Certificate. The operator of the boat must be at least 16-years-old and, if under 17, the individual must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Boating Under The Influence (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 and N.J.S.A. 12:7-46)

A person operating a boat is held to the same standards as someone behind the wheel of a car. It is illegal for a person to operate a boat while impaired from alcohol or drugs. It is the job of the New Jersey State Police Marine Service Bureau and the US Coast Guard to police the waterways around New Jersey. If stopped for suspicion of a BWI or BUI the captain of the boat must submit to the same field sobriety test as someone being stopped in a car. The captain of the boat may also have to submit to a Breathalyzer test to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC). The driver is obligated under the law of implied consent to submit to Breathalyzer and field sobriety tests if asked to do so by a law enforcement officer. Failing to take the test will result in another charge called refusal which, won’t alter the fact that you still are faced with a DWI.

Penalties For Boating Under The Influence In New Jersey

For a first offense of BWI/BUI in a boat with a BAC that is 0.08% to 0.09%, the boat operator is subject to a suspension of his or her boating license for one year and a suspension of motor vehicle driving privileges for three months. There will be a fine of between $250 and $400. The driver will have to pay fees including $230 for the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC), and a $1,000 surcharge per year for three years. There might also be a jail term of up to 30 days.

If, for the first offense, the BAC registers 0.10% or above the penalties rise significantly. The license suspension from driving a boat will be for one year and the driver’s license for a motor vehicle will be suspended for seven months to one year. The fine increases to between $300 and $500 and the other fees and surcharges are the same as for the lower tier first offense BWI as is the potential jail time.

For a second offense within ten years of the first, both the boating privileges and driver’s license will be suspended for two years. The fine will be between $500 and $1,000 and the other fees and surcharges remain the same. There is the chance that the offender will receive jail time as a punishment ranging from two to ninety days along wit hthe possibility of thirty days of community service.

For the third offense within ten years of the second offense, the license for operating a boat and a motor vehicle will be suspended for ten years. The fine will be $1,000 with the same IDRC and fees as for the second offense. The surcharges will rise to $1,500 each year for three years with the possibility of six months in jail. There could also be as many as ninety days of community service issued by the judge upon a third or subsequent BWI conviction.

Can I be charged with drunk boating in Florida?

Man Drinking Alcohol While Driving a Boat

What’s a day on the water without a beer or two? Many Miami boaters feel this way, but this thinking can get them into trouble. Just like on dry land, operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs is illegal and the consequences can be serious if you are caught. Just because you were ticketed on the water doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the charge seriously. Understand the charges you are facing and contact an experienced boating under the influence (BUI) attorney if you are arrested.

What Is Boating Under the Influence?

Florida’s waterways are patrolled by both local law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard. They have the authority to stop your boat and board it if they suspect that you are driving while intoxicated. The statute prohibiting drunk boating is similar to the one prohibiting drunk driving. Under Florida Statute 327.35, if you are operating a vessel and:

  • are under the influence of alcoholic beverages or controlled substance to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired
  • have a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood
  • have a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath

It’s important to note that, under the statute, you can be charged with a BUI if the police decide that your “normal faculties are impaired,” even if you don’t have a BAC of .08 or higher.

Why Do You Need a Lawyer?

The penalties for a drunk boating conviction are similar to those for a drunk driving conviction. You face fines and jail time if you are found guilty. If you cause a crash and someone is injured or killed, you face felony charges. An arrest for boating under the influence should be treated just like a DUI. Call attorney Danny Izquierdo to discuss your defense options as soon as possible after you are ticketed. It might be possible to get the charges reduced or dropped, or to argue for a lighter sentence given your unique circumstances. Don’t leave your fate to chance. Call the Izquierdo Law Firm today.

Related Links:

  • Answers to Questions About Your DUI Arrest
  • Defending a DUI Charge for Marijuana in Florida
  • Questions to Ask a Florida DUI Defense Attorney

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