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Florida BUI vs. DUI: Key Differences and Their Impact on Boaters

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Florida is known for its beautiful waterways, and many residents and tourists take advantage of the state's aquatic playground by spending their free time boating. However, it's crucial to understand the laws surrounding boating under the influence (BUI) and how they differ from driving under the influence (DUI) laws. In this article, we'll explore the key distinctions between Florida BUI and DUI laws and provide valuable tips to ensure you stay on the right side of the law while enjoying your time on the water.

BUI vs. DUI: Legal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits

While both BUI and DUI laws in Florida prohibit operating a vehicle or vessel with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, there are some differences in how these limits are enforced. For example, Florida law enforcement officers can request a breathalyzer test from a person suspected of BUI, just as they would for a DUI. However, unlike DUI laws, Florida Statute 326.18 allows law enforcement to board a vessel without probable cause or a warrant to ensure compliance with BUI laws. This means boaters may be subject to BAC testing even if they do not display any impairment.

Penalties for BUI Convictions

Penalties for BUI convictions in Florida can be just as severe as those for DUI convictions. Some potential consequences of a BUI conviction include the following:

  • Fines range from $500 to $5,000, depending on the number of previous convictions and the severity of the offense
  • Imprisonment for up to six months for a first offense, with longer sentences for repeat offenders
  • Community service requirements
  • Completion of a mandatory boating safety course
  • Potential loss of boating privileges

It's important to note that BUI convictions can also impact your driving privileges, as the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles may suspend your driver's license if you are convicted of a BUI offense.

Defenses Against BUI Charges

Just like with DUI charges, there are several potential defenses against BUI charges that may be applicable in your case. Some common defenses include:

  • Challenging the accuracy of the breathalyzer test or the qualifications of the officer administering the test
  • Arguing that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to conduct a BAC test
  • Presenting evidence that you were not operating the vessel at the time of the alleged offense

It's crucial to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney well-versed in Florida BUI laws to determine the best defense strategy for your situation.

How Morris Law Firm, P.A. Can Help

If you're facing BUI charges in Florida, you must have knowledgeable legal representation. At Morris Law Firm, P.A., our team of skilled criminal defense attorneys can help you navigate the complexities of Florida BUI vs. DUI laws and work diligently to protect your rights and interests. We understand the impact that a BUI conviction can have on your life, and we're committed to providing the aggressive and effective defense you need to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

Contact Morris Law Firm, P.A. today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you defend against BUI charges and safeguard your future!

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