Drinking and Boating Don’t Mix

Thu, Sep 29, 2011

General Legal Issues

BoatingWho does not enjoy a relaxing day on the water? Sun on your face and a warm breeze through your hair makes for a terrific way to pass the weekend. Music, food, and drinks go together really well with boating too. We have all known someone who has indulged too much while boating, maybe had a few too many drinks. Perhaps they thought they were safe since they were driving a boat and not a car. But did you know you can be convicted of BUI (Boating Under the Influence)?

All the Florida regulations for vessel safety can be found in Title XXIV, Chapter 327. The laws regarding boating under the influence are found in Section 327.35. It is important to be aware of these laws, as many are different from DUI (Driving Under the Influence) including penalties, fines, and more. Just as in DUI cases, boaters are often wondering if they should submit to breath and urine testing. The law in Florida is that if you are operating a boat, you have implied your consent to testing already. Of course, you can refuse, but be aware there are fines imposed.

A safe boater follows the requirements for vessel safety including proper life vest procedures, lighting, flags, numbering, permits, and more. Not following these will cause the police or other safety officers to eventually find you and board your boat. That is opening yourself up to many other inspections, including investigating you for a BUI. The rules on the water are quite different when it comes to when and why an officer can board your boat (compared to when an officer can enter your vehicle.)

SmithLaw encourages all boaters to take a boater safety course to educate themselves on the rules of the water. A designated driver is always encouraged for boating, as well as for driving. Check out our post on DUIs to learn more about protecting yourself when operating a vehicle.

Photo by wentuq

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