The Intracoastal Waterway stretches approximately 1,100 miles from Norfolk, Virginia to Miami. The state of Florida is responsible for almost 400 of those miles, about a third of the entire length. Given those numbers, it’s no wonder the state has devoted a portion of its legislative code to boating under the influence.
§327.35 of the Florida code makes it a criminal offense to pilot or operate a watercraft if you’ve been drinking or if you’re under the influence of drugs. The same standards apply as those pertaining to drinking and driving a motor vehicle. If your blood alcohol concentration is .08 or above, you’ve blown over. You’re impaired, and you could be charged with a BUI – boating under the influence. You can be fined up to $1,000 and can be sentenced to jail for up to six months. This is the light side of the offense. If this is your third BUI, the fine can potentially jump to $5,000 and you could spend as much as a year in prison. If you’re involved in a boating accident and someone loses his or her life, this is BUI manslaughter and the penalties get much worse. If your BAC is 0.15 or above, you’re also facing much stiffer penalties.
Repercussions like this can turn a pleasant weekend outing into a nightmare – unless you have an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney by your side. At Katz & Phillips, we understand that, unlike driving, boating is almost always a pleasurable pursuit. You might have been having a good time and might have been totally unaware of how much you drank. You might not even have known that boating under the influence is a criminal offense in Florida. We don’t judge; we know it could happen to anyone. We’re standing by to offer you our experienced, compassionate, dedicated help. Call us for a consultation so we can review the charges against you. We’ll let you know where you stand and how we can defend you against these charges so that one mistake does not have to ruin years of your life.