The Florida Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Guide

Understanding Boating Under the Influence (BUI) in Florida

Boating under the influence (BUI) in Florida is a serious offense that can lead to significant legal consequences. With the state’s extensive coastline, numerous lakes, and a vibrant boating culture, it’s crucial for operators of vessels to understand the laws surrounding BUI. At Leppard Law: DUI Defense Attorneys, we are committed to providing you with the essential information and legal support you need if you’re facing BUI charges.

What constitutes BUI in Florida? Boating Under the Influence is defined by operating a vessel while your normal faculties are impaired by alcohol or drugs, with a blood- or breath-alcohol level of 0.08% or higher.

In Florida, law enforcement has ramped up safety boat inspections and BUI investigations, particularly in areas like Hillsborough County where the Marine Unit and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are active. These efforts aim to reduce accidents and fatalities that involve alcohol or drug impairment.

The legal BAC limit for operating a vessel is the same as driving a vehicle – 0.08%. However, for individuals under 21, Florida enforces a “zero-tolerance policy” with a legal limit of 0.02% or higher. It’s also important to note that an arrest for BUI does not always lead to a conviction. With experienced legal representation, charges can often be reduced or dismissed.

Being charged with BUI can result in a criminal record, fines, and even jail time. Moreover, any prior DUI or BUI conviction counts as a prior for any subsequent DUI or BUI, enhancing the criminal penalties. If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s crucial to contact Leppard Law: DUI Defense Attorneys at 407-476-4111 for expert legal assistance.

Understanding BUI in Florida

Problems with BUI enforcement in Florida often arise from the subjective nature of determining impairment. The marine environment can amplify the effects of alcohol or drugs, making it challenging for operators to gauge their level of impairment accurately. This complexity underscores the importance of having knowledgeable legal representation that can navigate these nuances effectively.

At Leppard Law: DUI Defense Attorneys, we understand the challenges and anxieties that come with facing BUI charges. Our approach combines legal expertise with a personal touch, ensuring that you’re not just another case number. We’re here to defend your rights and guide you through the legal process with compassion and dedication. If you’re facing BUI charges, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 407-476-4111 for a consultation.

“Your Voice, Our Mission” – we champion your rights with the tenacity and dedication that has earned us the trust of our community members.

Remember, boating safely and responsibly is not just a legal obligation but a critical measure to ensure the safety of all waterway users. If you’re unsure about the implications of BUI laws in Florida or need legal representation, contact us today.


When navigating Florida’s waters, understanding the legal ramifications of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is crucial. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a weekend boater, the consequences of a BUI conviction can be severe and long-lasting. At Leppard Law: DUI Defense Attorneys, we’re here to guide you through the complexities of BUI laws and help safeguard your rights and future.

Penalties for First-Time and Subsequent Offenses

The state of Florida does not take BUI lightly, and penalties can escalate quickly with each offense. Here’s a breakdown of what you might expect if convicted:

  • First BUI Conviction: May include fines ranging from $500 to $1,000 and up to six months of imprisonment. The court may also mandate community service, probation, and substance abuse courses.
  • Second BUI Conviction: Fines increase to between $1,000 and $2,000, with potential imprisonment up to nine months. Penalties can be more severe if the second offense occurs within five years of the first.
  • Third BUI Conviction: This is where the stakes rise significantly. If the third conviction is within 10 years of a prior conviction, it’s treated as a third-degree felony, carrying fines of $2,000 to $5,000 and up to 5 years in prison.
  • Subsequent Offenses: Further convictions are considered third-degree felonies, with similar fines but increased scrutiny and potential for maximum prison time.

It’s also important to note that penalties can be enhanced under certain circumstances, such as a BAC of 0.15% or higher, or if a minor is present in the vessel at the time of the offense. Enhanced penalties can include higher fines and longer imprisonment times.

Legal Consequences of BUI in Florida

Beyond the immediate legal penalties, a BUI conviction can have long-lasting effects on your life. These can include a criminal record, increased insurance rates, and potential loss of professional licenses. It’s also worth mentioning that Florida’s DUI penalties can be applied to BUI convictions, meaning any prior DUI or BUI conviction counts as a prior for any subsequent DUI or BUI, enhancing the criminal penalties.

Given the severe implications of a BUI conviction, securing experienced legal representation is imperative. At Leppard Law: DUI Defense Attorneys, we leverage our extensive knowledge of Florida’s BUI laws to develop a robust defense strategy tailored to your unique situation. If you’re facing BUI charges, reach out to us at 407-476-4111 for a consultation and let us help you navigate these turbulent waters.

Remember, a BUI arrest does not always lead to a conviction. With the right defense, charges can often be reduced or dismissed entirely.

In conclusion, the legal consequences of BUI in Florida are significant and can impact not just your freedom but your future opportunities. Don’t leave your fate to chance; contact Leppard Law: DUI Defense Attorneys today for the dedicated and personalized legal support you deserve.

Enforcement of BUI Laws in Florida

Florida’s waters are patrolled by vigilant law enforcement agencies, ensuring the safety and legality of boating activities. The enforcement of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) laws is a critical component of these efforts, aimed at reducing accidents and fatalities on the water. Understanding the enforcement process and the roles of various agencies can help boaters navigate these waters more safely and responsibly.

Role of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) plays a pivotal role in the enforcement of BUI laws. As stewards of Florida’s natural resources, FWC officers are authorized to conduct vessel inspections and investigate suspected BUI offenses. Their authority extends across all of Florida’s waters, from inland lakes and rivers to the coastal areas and beyond into federal waters. Here’s how the FWC enforces BUI laws:

  • Vessel Inspections: FWC officers may stop any vessel to check for compliance with safety regulations and to ensure the operator is not impaired.
  • Sobriety Assessments: If an officer suspects impairment, they may conduct field sobriety tests and use breathalyzers to determine blood alcohol content (BAC).
  • Arrests and Penalties: Boaters found to be operating under the influence can be arrested and face serious penalties, including fines, imprisonment, and the potential loss of boating privileges.

FWC’s efforts are supported by other law enforcement agencies, including county sheriff’s offices and the Coast Guard, particularly in cases involving serious injuries or federal waters. Together, these agencies work to ensure that Florida’s boating laws are enforced, and that boaters enjoy a safe environment.

Did you know? The same legal BAC limit that applies on the road (.08%) also applies on the water. Operating a vessel with a BAC of .08% or higher is considered BUI in Florida.

Despite rigorous enforcement efforts, challenges persist in policing Florida’s vast waterways. The marine environment can intensify impairment effects, making it difficult for officers to assess sobriety accurately. Furthermore, the casual atmosphere of boating can lead some to underestimate the dangers of operating a vessel while impaired.

At Leppard Law: DUI Defense Attorneys, we understand the complexities of BUI cases and the nuances of maritime law. Our experienced team is adept at navigating these intricate legal waters, offering robust defense strategies for those accused of BUI. If you’ve been charged with BUI, don’t navigate this stormy legal sea alone. Call us at 407-476-4111 or reach out to us for a consultation. Together, we’ll chart a course towards the best possible outcome for your case.


Defending Against a BUI Charge in Florida

Being charged with Boating Under the Influence (BUI) in Florida can be a daunting experience, fraught with uncertainty and concern about the future. However, it’s crucial to remember that a charge does not equate to a conviction. With the right defense strategy and legal representation, it’s possible to challenge a BUI charge effectively. Understanding the defense mechanisms and the importance of experienced legal representation can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

When facing a BUI charge, the expertise of a seasoned attorney is invaluable. Navigating the complexities of BUI charges requires a deep understanding of both maritime and DUI laws. An experienced DUI defense attorney can scrutinize the evidence against you, identify procedural errors, and develop a comprehensive defense strategy. Here are key ways an attorney can assist:

  • Case Evaluation: An in-depth analysis of your case to identify potential weaknesses in the prosecution’s arguments.
  • Challenging Evidence: Expertise in questioning the accuracy of breathalyzer tests, field sobriety tests, and the legality of the boat stop.
  • Negotiating Plea Deals: Leveraging their knowledge and relationships to negotiate reduced charges or penalties where appropriate.
  • Trial Representation: Providing skilled advocacy in court to present your defense compellingly.

At Leppard Law: DUI Defense Attorneys, our team is well-versed in the intricacies of BUI cases. We understand the potential flaws in BUI investigations, from the administration of sobriety tests on unstable surfaces to the impact of environmental factors on a boater’s apparent impairment. Our approach combines thorough legal knowledge with a commitment to defending your rights vigorously.

Remember, the marine environment can intensify impairment symptoms. Factors such as sun, wind, and boat motion may affect sobriety assessments. An experienced attorney can argue these points effectively in your defense.

Choosing the right legal representation is crucial. A lawyer familiar with local waterways, law enforcement practices, and the specific challenges of BUI cases can provide the tailored defense strategy you need. Our firm’s dedication to client-focused service means we work closely with you every step of the way, ensuring you’re informed and confident in your defense.

If you’re facing a BUI charge, it’s essential to act quickly to protect your rights and explore your defense options. Leppard Law: DUI Defense Attorneys offers the expertise and personalized attention your case deserves. Contact us today at 407-476-4111 or through our website to schedule a consultation. Let us help you navigate these turbulent legal waters toward a more favorable outcome.

Legal Defense Strategy

Infographic depicting the words The Florida Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Guide


Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered Boating Under the Influence (BUI) in Florida?

Boating Under the Influence (BUI) in Florida is defined as operating a vessel with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, or when the operator’s normal faculties are impaired by alcohol or drugs. This applies to all watercraft, including boats, jet skis, and even paddleboards.

How does law enforcement detect BUI in Florida?

Law enforcement detects BUI through vessel stops for safety checks, observation of the operator’s behavior, performance on field sobriety tests, and chemical tests to measure blood alcohol content. Agencies such as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and local marine units are actively involved in BUI enforcement.

What are the penalties for a first-time BUI offense in Florida?

The penalties for a first-time BUI offense in Florida include fines ranging from $500 to $1,000, possible jail time up to six months, community service, probation, and mandatory completion of a boater education course. The severity of penalties can increase based on BAC levels and the presence of minors on board.

Can a BUI charge affect my driving license in Florida?

No, a BUI conviction in Florida does not directly impact your driving license or appear on your driving record. However, it’s important to note that a BUI conviction can influence the penalties for any subsequent DUI charges, as prior offenses are considered in the sentencing phase.

Exploring the depth of our legal expertise, we offer comprehensive services across a variety of practice areas closely related to Boating Under the Influence (BUI) in Florida.

DUI Defense in Florida Drug Crimes Defense
Criminal Defense Services Traffic Violations Legal Assistance
Domestic Violence Defense Theft Crimes Legal Support
Assault and Battery Defense Juvenile Crimes Defense
Probation Violations Legal Services Sealing and Expungement Assistance
White Collar Crimes Defense Federal Crimes Legal Representation
Sex Crimes Defense Violent Crimes Legal Services
Manslaughter Defense Homicide Defense Services

List of Top-Rated Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Attorneys Serving Florida

Choosing the appropriate legal representation is crucial when pursuing a claim. A seasoned, committed attorney as your BUI lawyer ensures you’re equipped to make informed choices at each phase of the process.

  • John Vallillo: Known for his meticulous attention to detail, John Vallillo offers personalized and effective legal representation for BUI charges.
  • Joe Easton: Specializing in challenging evidence and negotiating favorable outcomes, Joe Easton is deeply committed to achieving justice for his clients.
  • Joel Leppard: Joel Leppard’s strategic approach and skilled negotiation tactics have led to numerous dismissals and reduced charges for his clients, making him a top choice for BUI defense.

Discover What Our Clients Are Saying

At Leppard Law: DUI Defense Attorneys, we pour our dedication into every case, ensuring each client receives the highest level of legal representation. The stellar reviews from our clients across Central Florida underscore our commitment to excellence and client satisfaction. These testimonials are just a portion of our hundreds of 5-star reviews on platforms like Facebook, Google, Thumbtack, and Yelp.


Infographic depicting the words The Florida Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Guide

Secure Your Defense with Leppard Law Today

At Leppard Law: DUI Defense Attorneys, we understand the turmoil and stress that come with facing a Boating Under the Influence (BUI) charge in Florida. Our approach is not just about legal representation; it’s about providing a personal touch, where we know you as well as we know your case. Our dedication to our clients is unmatched, and our track record speaks for itself. We’re not just your attorneys; we’re your advocates, your support system, and your guide through the complexities of the legal system.

Don’t let a BUI charge disrupt your life more than it has to. With a team that treats you like family and fights tirelessly for your rights, Leppard Law is here to ensure you receive the best possible outcome for your case. Experience the difference of having a dedicated team by your side.

Call us today at 407-476-4111 for a free consultation and see why we’re consistently ranked among the top in customer satisfaction and legal expertise. Let us take the weight off your shoulders and provide the defense you deserve.

Remember, facing a BUI charge doesn’t have to be a journey you take alone. Reach out to Leppard Law, and let’s navigate these challenging waters together.


Trusted Content


Legally Reviewed by Joe Easton

Expert Attorney

Legally reviewed by Joe Easton and the content team, this article reflects the firm’s 60 years of combined criminal defense expertise. Joe Easton, with his extensive experience and strategic prowess in DUI and criminal defense, offers more than just legal representation; he brings a commitment to turning legal challenges into triumphs. His approach, combining tenacity in the courtroom with personalized client care, ensures your case is not just defended but championed with dedication and expertise.

Learn More About Joe Easton