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Boating Under the Influence

Superior Client Service

Summer is in full swing here in Southwest Florida. We have a lot of easy access to water and boats: from the canals in Cape Coral to the Caloosahatchee, Estero Bay, and Matlacha rivers – just to name a few. Because water surrounds Florida, locals and tourists alike are always looking for a good opportunity to enjoy a boating adventure.

However, all boaters need to be aware of the laws and regulations surrounding this recreational activity. In Florida, a vessel is a “watercraft, barge, and airboat, other than a seaplane on the water, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.” This definition encompasses recreational boats, personal watercraft, and even kayaks and canoes. Florida law also prohibits skippers from operating a vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Aside from the legal aspects, also keep in mind that the effects of alcohol can be intensified when you are out in the sun. The wind, waves, and motion of the water can impact your awareness of both your consumption and the impact it has on you.

Don’t a BUI arrest ruin your fun day on the water. When boating, there are still rules of the “road” that need to be followed. The waterways can be just as tricky as the criminal justice system, but here at Powell, Jackman, Stevens & Ricciardi, we can guide through rough water.

Many of the laws and penalties for a DUI are the same for a BUI. For a first-time BUI, the penalties can range from:

  • A fine between $500 and $1,000; unless your BAC is 0.15% or higher, or if you had a minor in the vehicle, in which case the fine is between $1,000 and $2,000.
  • Maximum jail sentence of 6 months; or 9 months if there was a minor in the boat or your BAC was 0.15% or higher.
  • Minimum mandatory 50 hours of community supervision.
  • Probation up to a year (with a $50 per month cost of supervision on top of other fines, fees, and costs).
  • Vessel impound of 10 days, unless you meet one of the qualified exceptions.
  • Driver’s license suspension for 6-12 months.
  • DUI School Phase 1

If you’re in Lee County, Florida, it is highly likely that you will also be required to attend and complete the Lee Memorial Trauma Class or the Victims Impact Panel.

Remember, these penalties are for a first offense with no aggravating factors. If you get a second or third BUI, or if there are aggravating factors accompanying your first BUI (as listed above), the range of penalties increases. For instance, some levels include minimum mandatory jail sentences.

Questions About BUI or DUI? Contact Our Firm Today!

Contact the DUI attorneys at Powell, Jackman, Stevens & Ricciardi, P.A. if you have questions about your BUI charges or require criminal defense representation. Our client-driven legal team can protect your rights and boating privileges through this complex and multifaceted legal process.

Call Powell, Jackman, Stevens & Ricciardi, (239) 970-6844 to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation.

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