Getting out on the water with a drink in hand may sound like an ideal way to spend a weekend. However, both Florida and federal laws prohibit boating under the influence. What happens after your day of fun out on the water ends in your arrest?
A BUI conviction can lead to serious consequences that you may be unprepared for. If a law enforcement officer finds your blood alcohol content (BAC) level to be over the legal limit of .08%, you could face substantial penalties affecting your freedom, finances and your ability to operate a boat.
The penalties of a BUI conviction in Florida
Boaters facing BUI charges after an arrest on a Florida lake or river will face state penalties while those arrested on the Gulf or Atlantic Ocean could face federal penalties, depending on where the arrest occurred. The penalties of a BUI conviction under Florida law include:
- Fines of up to $1,000 for a first offense and up to $2,000 for a second offense
- Jail time of up to six months for a first offense and more for subsequent offenses
- The start of your criminal record, which can affect employment, housing, loans and more
- A suspended or revoked boating license
- Increased insurance rates
Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, the penalties you face could vary. If your BAC level exceeded .08% or you refused to consent to a breath or chemical test, you could face higher fines and enhanced penalties.
In some cases, your driver's license could face consequences as well. First-time BUI offenders are not likely to see effects to their driver's license. However, a past BUI conviction could enhance the penalties to your driver's license in the event of a future driving under the influence (DUI) conviction. This could lead to the suspension or revocation of your driver's license for one year or more.
What you can do after an arrest
After an arrest, carefully comply with the legal process to follow to contest the charges you face and ultimately seek reduced or even dismissed charges. While first-time BUI charges may seem insignificant, you could risk your ability to operate a boat and potentially, your privilege to drive. Take quick action to protect your rights and guard against the suspension of your boater's license.