Floridians – especially those living in Tampa Bay – love boating. It is not uncommon to see dozens of boats out on the water together, even in January. Many of those out boating enjoy alcoholic beverages while on the water. Unfortunately, even drinking one or two beers can lead to an arrest for BUI. This year, dozens of people will be arrested for BUI in Tampa Bay. Many of those arrests, unfortunately, will come at the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival, or at a celebration for Fourth of July, Memorial Day, or any other major holiday. This can put a major damper on not only a celebration, but your life and career as well.
In Florida, BUI, or Boating Under the Influence, is a serious crime. Unlike with a traditional motor vehicle stop, law enforcement officers can stop and board your boat at virtually any time for a random equipment check, or if they believe you are speeding or committing a violation of the law. While it is legal to drink and then operate a boat, it is illegal to operate a boat if your blood alcohol level is over .08 of if your normal faculties are impaired due to drug or alcohol consumption. This essentially comes down to a judgment call by a law enforcement officer, who will look for tell-tale signs of impairment such as bloodshot, watery eyes, the odor of alcohol on your breath, or unsteadiness on your feet.
In Florida, BUI carries harsh penalties, including fines, court costs, impoundment of your vessel, and possible jail time for a first offense. Additionally, first time BUI is a misdemeanor criminal offense that will stay on your record and can be used against you to enhance the penalties for a subsequent BUI or DUI.
BUI is governed under Florida Statute 327.35, "Boating under the influence". That law can be read at leg.state.fl.us. If you or a loved one has been charged with Boating Under the Influence in Tampa, call a criminal defense lawyer at Taracks & Associates today for a free consultation. Our firm is comprised of four experienced defense attorneys who know how to fight the charge against you and help you to avoid a conviction. Call us today at 813-281-2897. Taracks & Associates – The Advocate For You.