Is Driving a Boat While Drinking a Crime?

Guys Drinking on a Boat

Boating is a popular recreational activity in Orlando, FL, and many people enjoy spending time on the water with friends and family. However, it's essential to be aware of the laws surrounding boating under the influence (BUI) and the potential consequences if you're caught operating a boat while intoxicated. In this blog post, we'll discuss the laws governing BUI, the penalties you may face, and possible defense strategies if you're charged with this crime.

What Constitutes Boating Under the Influence?

According to Florida law, a person is considered to be boating under the influence if they operate a vessel while their blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or higher, or if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the extent that their normal faculties are impaired. This applies to all vessels, including personal watercraft such as jet skis.

What Are the Penalties for Boating Under the Influence?

Boating under the influence is a serious offense that can result in severe penalties. Some of the potential consequences include:

  • First conviction: Fines of $500 to $1,000 and up to six months in jail
  • Second conviction: Fines of $1,000 to $2,000 and up to nine months in jail
  • Third conviction (within ten years): Fines of $2,000 to $5,000 and up to 12 months in jail
  • Fourth or subsequent conviction: Felony charge with fines of $2,000 to $5,000 and up to five years in prison

Additionally, the court may order you to complete a boating safety course and may impose community service hours. It's important to note that these penalties can be even more severe if your BUI resulted in property damage, injury, or death.

How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help?

If you've been charged with boating under the influence, it's crucial to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, like the team at Ali & Blankner. They can help you navigate the legal process and develop a strong defense strategy. Some possible defenses for a BUI charge include:

  • Challenging the BAC test: Your attorney may argue that the breathalyzer test was not administered correctly, the device was not properly calibrated, or the results were otherwise inaccurate.
  • Questioning the field sobriety tests: Field sobriety tests can be subjective, and your attorney may argue that the officer's interpretation of your performance was incorrect or that the tests were not administered properly.
  • Arguing that the stop was unlawful: If the officer did not have probable cause to stop your vessel, your attorney may argue that any evidence obtained during the stop should be suppressed.

By working with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, you can increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome in your BUI case.


Boating under the influence is a serious crime with potentially severe penalties. If you've been charged with BUI, it's essential to understand the laws and potential consequences, as well as the possible defense strategies that may be available to you. The experienced team at Ali & Blankner can help you navigate the legal process and develop a strong defense to protect your rights and your future. Don't hesitate to reach out to us for a consultation if you find yourself facing a BUI charge.