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An Orlando Boating Accident Attorney’s Guide to Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Penalties

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on July 11, 2012

Orlando personal injury lawyer James O. Cunningham has seen and assisted a lot of Florida boating accident victims over the nearly four decades since he began practicing law. Sadly, many of these accidents were caused by negligent boaters who operated their vessels while under the influence of alcohol. Florida has more than 11,000 square miles of waterways. In 2011, there were at least 25 confirmed cases of accidents caused by boating under the influence of alcohol or BUI. These accidents resulted in dozens of injuries that required trips to the emergency room. In order to raise awareness about the risks of BUI and help make Florida waterways safer for the upcoming busy summer boating season, Mr. Cunningham has compiled a list of criminal penalties for boaters who drink while operating their vessels.

Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission can stop any boat at any time whether they suspect that a boater is under the influence or not. Like drunk drivers, boaters can be convicted of BUI if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. A boater facing a BUI charge must submit to a blood, breath or urine test. If they refuse, this results in an automatic $500 fine. If the officer suspects that a boater is intoxicated, he or she can administer a series of field sobriety exercises. If the boater fails any of these tests, he or she can be arrested. If convicted of BUI, the criminal penalties include the following:

  • First offense
    Maximum of 6 months in jail and fines of $500-$1,000 plus court costs
  • Second offense
    Maximum of 9 months in jail and fines of $1,000-$2,000 plus court costs
  • Third offense within ten years of a prior conviction
    Results in a 3rd degree felony with a maximum 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000 plus court costs
  • Third offense outside ten years of a prior conviction
    Results in a 3rd degree felony with a maximum 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,000 -$5,000 plus court costs
  • Fourth offense
    Results in a 3rd degree felony with a maximum 5 years in prison and a minimum fine of $2,000 plus court costs

Boating accidents which result in injury or death and BUI conviction of boaters with a BAC of 0.20 or higher come with much tougher criminal penalties and steeper fines.

Boating while under the influence is profoundly reckless and negligent, and boaters who cause boating accidents that kill and injure other boaters can be held liable for damages. If you or a close member of your family has been injured in a boating accident caused by a drunken boater and you would like to speak with an Orlando boating accident lawyer to learn more about your legal options, call Mr. Cunningham today at 888-425-2004. Be extra careful out there, and have a safe and fun boating season this summer!

James O. Cunningham

James O. CunninghamSince 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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