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Orlando BUI Lawyer


Boating under the influence of drugs and alcohol is a serious crime in Orlando FL. Boating law officers have increased safety boat inspections and BUI investigations since the COVID-19 pandemic has brought more people out on the water.

Alcohol is the leading known cause of fatal boating accidents in Florida. Alcohol is often more of an impairment to Orange County boaters than drivers because of experience, or lack thereof.  Many recreational boaters do not have sufficient experience handling a boat and alcohol can make things deadly.

A blood alcohol level of .035 is enough to increase your chances of a boating accident. Alcohol impairs your coordination and judgment and the boating environment can accelerate your rate of impairment. 

If you’re concerned about a Florida statute preventing you from enjoying your Orlando boating experience, speak with an Orlando influence attorney about your options. Orlando BUI defense attorneys can use their experience to build the defense necessary to overcome your BUI charges. 

Florida Legal BAC Limit for Operating a Vessel

The blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for anyone driving a vehicle on the roadway is .08. The same legal limit applies to anyone operating a vessel. Operating a boating vessel with a blood alcohol level higher than .08 can lead to a BUI charge.

There’s a zero-tolerance policy for anyone under 21 years old. If you’ve been falsely convicted or interested in having your BUI charges dropped or reduced, then speak with Parikh Law, Orange County and Orlando BUI attorneys. 

Florida BUI Penalties

Florida statutes are harsh  to discourage drinking and boating. The following penalties have been levied for BUI charges:

  • BUI first conviction comes with a fine of not less than $500 and/or up to six months in a county jail
  • BUI second conviction carries a fine of not less than $1,000 and/or up to 9 months in a county jail
  • A BUI third offense within ten years of the previous one can carry a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in a Florida state prison facility
  • A third offense BUI case after ten years carries penalties of a fine of not less than $2,000 and up to 12 months in county jail 

A BUI charge, whether it be your first conviction or third can be equally as damaging as a DUI charge, and that’s why it’s important to find the right Orlando BUI lawyer. 

A subsequent conviction for BUI can have a drastic effect on your ability to operate a watercraft or even a motor vehicle. The criminal penalties for BUI can lead to being put on probation and monthly urine screenings. You also could be court-ordered to get substance abuse treatment. 

The problem of drug or alcohol impairment is compounded for operators of boats because they are typically far less experienced on the water than they are behind the wheel of a car.

The lack of boating experience, combined with distractions that can occur while boating, including other boaters, weather conditions, and seasickness, can intensify the effects of drugs or alcohol while boating.

A failed breathalyzer test can lead to you being found guilty of BUI and losing your driver’s license. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be convicted, especially if it’s your first offense. If you’re a first-time offender, speak with an experienced Orlando BUI lawyer about the elements of your case. 

A BUI conviction will never directly result in a suspension or revocation of the privileges to drive a motor vehicle nor appear on your driving record. BUI cases might indirectly impact your driving privileges if you later get arrested for DUI because the prior BUI conviction counts the same as a prior DUI for enhancement purposes. Likewise, if you have previously been convicted of DUI, your BUI sentence can be enhanced.

A BUI conviction can include probation with a special condition that the defendant completes a substance abuse course. This course may include evaluation and any recommended follow-up treatment, at least 50 hours of community service, and at least ten-day impoundment or immobilization of the boat or watercraft.

Elements of an Orlando BUI Criminal Charge 

Florida Statute Section 327.35(1) stipulates that a BUI arrest can occur when your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or higher, or a law enforcement officer suspects that your normal faculties are impaired due to intoxication or drug impairment.

The Coast Guard also enforces BUI because boating under the influence is also a federal offense. Boating under the influence arrests made off the U.S. shorelines of Florida are under the jurisdiction of federal authorities. 

An arrest for Boating Under the Influence closer to the shore or on lakes and rivers is typically made by Florida law enforcement officers and prosecuted in Florida state courts.

Florida BUI Law Enforcement

Law enforcement officers with the Coast Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and sheriff’s deputies of the various counties in Florida have the right to conduct a stop of the boat to investigate whether the boat’s operator is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

BUI officers can conduct the stop when they have probable cause to believe a boat is or violating a regulation. In certain cases, the BUI officers can stop a boat for a random inspection related to an equipment check, fishing compliance, or safety registration.

The officer can ask the operator of the boat to perform a hand-held breath test or complete a series of sobriety exercises. They can also perform chemical tests of the boater’s blood, breath, or urine.

BUIs are treated as a serious criminal offense because Florida leads the nation in the yearly number of boating deaths. More than one-third of all recreational boating fatalities involve the use of alcohol, and in more than half of the cases, the victim either falls overboard or capsizes the boat.

Orlando DUI attorneys at Parikh Law represent clients after they receive a BUI citation or any of the following boating citations including:

  • Boating under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances
  • Careless operation of a vessel
  • ​​Expired registration
  • Failure to transfer title and registration
  • Improper safety equipment and lights
  • Manatee violation
  • No boater I.D. card
  • Operation of an unregistered vessel
  • ​​Registration certificate not on board
  • Registration number not properly displayed
  • Speeding and restricted area violations
  • Water skiing violations
  • Willful and wanton reckless operation of a vessel
  • Violation of navigation rules

In Florida, a drunk boating arrest can lead to a criminal record, probation, possible incarceration, fines, court costs, community service, alcohol courses, and your boat being impounded. If you have been charged with BUI or boating under the influence, your BUI arrest does not always lead to a conviction. 

If you were arrested in the Orlando area for boating while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, prescription medication, or illegal drugs, contact experienced Orlando BUI defense attorney Parikh Law, PA.