Boating Under The Influence DEFENDERS of Your Rights. Your Life. Your Future.

Boating Under the Influence

The attorneys at Morris Law Firm, P.A. are experienced fighting Boating Under the Influence (BUI) cases in and around Pinellas County, FL. Attorney Melinda Morris served on the DUI Manslaughter / Vehicular Homicide Squad while a State Attorney and was responsible for prosecuting very serious DUI and BUI cases from investigation through trial.

Ms. Morris received special training on prosecuting DUI and BUI cases from the State of Florida. For a BUI Lawyer, this inside knowledge is of critical importance and can benefit the defense of your case.

As a criminal defense attorney, Melinda Morris has used this unique experience to help her aggressively fight for her clients charged with serious DUI and BUI offense.

BUI Lawyer in St. Petersburg, FL

Florida law for Boating Under the Influence (BUI) provides for the following elements as explained by Florida Statute 327.35:

  1. A person is guilty of the offense of boating under the influence if the person is operating a vessel within this state and:
    1. The person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in s. 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893, when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired;
    2. The person has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more; or
    3. The person has a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more.

Time is of the essence.

You have a very narrow window of time between when you are arrested and when the State Attorney’s office makes a decision to file a criminal charge against you. Hiring an attorney immediately to negotiate on your behalf gives you the best chance of avoiding criminal charges.

Hire the Morris Law Firm and let us fight for you.

What Happens Next

You May:

  • Face jail or prison time
  • Face fines
  • Face probation
  • Face vessel impoundment or forfeiture
  • Be required to attend substance-abuse treatment
  • Be required to perform community service
  • Be required to pay restitution
  • Have a permanent criminal record

Potential Defenses include:

  • Failure to Read Miranda Warnings
  • Mistaken Identity
  • “Under the influence” testing
  • Blood-alcohol concentration issues
  • Testing during the absorptive phase
  • Retrograde extrapolation
  • Regulation of blood-alcohol testing


What is the penalty for a first conviction of BUI?

Up to a $500 fine, up to six (6) months in jail, probation, community service hours, a substance abuse evaluation and treatment, and a ten (10) day impound of your vessel.

What is the penalty for a second conviction of BUI?
Up to a $1000 fine, up to nine (9) months in jail (10 days mandatory if second conviction within 5 years), probation, community service hours, a substance abuse evaluation and treatment, and a thirty (30) day impound of your vessel.

What is the penalty for a third conviction (within 10 years) of BUI?
A third conviction within ten (10) years becomes a felony, punishable by more than one (1) year in prison.

What is the penalty for a fourth conviction of BUI?
Any fourth conviction of Boating Under the Influence (regardless of time frame) is a felony and is punishable by more than one (1) year in prison.

What if I have a previous conviction for DUI in addition to my recent BUI arrest?
A previous conviction for DUI counts as an enhancement for a subsequent arrest and conviction of BUI.

What makes BUI penalties more severe?
  • A breath test of .20 or higher, or
  • Having a minor present on the vessel

What are the consequences of refusing to submit to a breath test in a BUI investigation?
Refusal to submit to a breath test in a BUI investigation can result in a $500 civil penalty.

What are the consequences of BUI with Serious Bodily Injury and BUI Manslaughter?
BUI with Serious Bodily Injury and BUI Manslaughter are felonies and are punishable similar to their DUI counterparts.

Jurisdiction Over Marine Violations in Pinellas County

Who has jurisdiction over a marine violation in Pinellas County? Under the mutual aid agreement, many local law enforcement agencies in Pinellas County are permitted to work together across jurisdictional lines under certain conditions.

Municipal law enforcement officers of cooperating agencies in Pinellas County, FL, are permitted to enforce all state boating and marine fishery laws and county boating ordinances on the waterways of another cooperating agency as long as such violations occur on waterways contiguous to and in view of the jurisdiction of the officer’s employing agency.

For cases involving a felony or a misdemeanor involving a breach of peace that occurs on the waterways of another cooperating agency, the person being detained will be turned over to the first available officer from the jurisdiction in which the incident occurs. Cases involving only a minor violation may be concluded at the scene by the issuance of a Boating Citation or Notice to Appear.

Finding a BUI Defense Attorney in Pinellas County, FL

Melinda Morris, of Morris Law Firm, P.A., is a criminal defense attorney in St. Petersburg. Her law firm is dedicated to defending Boating Under the Influence clients throughout Pinellas County and the entire Tampa Bay Area including Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Manatee County, and Sarasota County.

Call for a free and confidential consultation to discuss the facts of your case, the elements of the offense, and the best defenses that can be used to fight the accusations of drunk or impaired boating. Call (727) 592-5885 today.

Why Choose Our Law Firm?

See the Difference Our Service Provides

    Melinda Morris is a former prosecutor and has handled thousands of criminal cases from investigation through sentencing enabling us to identify weaknesses in the State’s case against you.


    We never settle for the easiest outcome or the typical result. We know how to negotiate with the State Attorney and we will work to get you the best possible outcome.


    Melinda Morris has practiced criminal law for over 20 years. Our clients trust advice that comes from experience in nearly every type of criminal case.


    We will know every client’s story because we will take the time to listen and understand. You will work with your attorney one-on-one at every stage of the process.


    You will have the cell phone number of your attorney. Your attorney will directly return your call, email, or text to answer your pressing questions.


    The government is wasting no time in trying to prove your guilt, a proactive defense is imperative. Prompt and decisive action from your defense attorney is of critical importance.

Meet the Attorneys

Melinda Morris & Seth Shapiro

Client Testimonials

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    “Seth Shapiro is the most professional, courteous, caring attorneys I’ve dealt with in all of my 70 years. He did a fabulous job representing me defending me and getting charges dropped. I couldn’t ...”

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    “100% satisfied with Morris law group. Melinda was able to resolve my legal issues with no additional expenses other than my original retainer. I highly recommend this firm for professional and ...”

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