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BUI (Boating Under the Influence): Your FAQs Answered


Is it illegal to drink alcohol while operating a boat?

Provided that the individual consuming the alcohol is at least 21 years old, there is no Florida law that prohibits operating a boat while consuming alcohol; likewise, there is no Florida law that prohibits an individual from consuming alcohol while a passenger on a boat. It is important to note that these laws are very different from the laws concerning consuming alcohol in motor vehicles in Florida. It is illegal for any person to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage or consume an alcoholic beverage while operating a vehicle in the state or while a passenger in or on a vehicle being operated in the state.

What does it mean to be operating a boat?
Pursuant to F.S. 327.02(27), “operate” means “to be in charge of or in command of or in actual physical control of a vessel upon the waters of this state, or to exercise control over or to have responsibility for a vessel’s navigation or safety while the vessel is underway upon the waters of this state, or to control or steer a vessel being towed by another vessel upon the waters of the state.” As such, the law may consider you to be operating the boat, even if you weren’t actually driving the boat.

What kinds of boats do BUI charges apply to?
The Florida Statutes actually uses the term vessel not boat when discussing Florida boating under the influence. Pursuant to F.S. 327.02(39), the term vessel is “synonymous with boat as referenced in s. 1(b), Art. VII of the State Constitution and includes every description of watercraft, barge, and airboat, other than a seaplane on the water, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.”

How does the prosecutor prove I am guilty of BUI?
In Florida, in order the prove the crime of boating under the influence in Florida, the State Attorney’s Office must prove that you were operating a vessel in Florida, and while operating that vessel, you were under the influence of alcoholic beverages or a controlled substance to the extent your normal faculties were impaired or had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more (or .02% if you are under the age of 21).

What should I do if I have been charged with BUI?
First things first, you should never plead guilty to a BUI charge without first speaking to a Miami criminal defense lawyer. You only have a limited period of time to find suitable legal representation at a Miami criminal defense law firm, so it is imperative that you take immediate action. Leading criminal defense practice The Law Offices of Yale L. Galanter, P.A. has the requisite experience to help you fight your BUI and will work every angle possible to get your BUI case dismissed or reduced to a lesser citation to avoid harsh sanctions.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a BUI in the Miami or Ft. Lauderdale area, you need to talk with a skilled Florida criminal defense lawyer. Contact us by email at or call us at 305-576-0244 or 954-524-6600 anytime day or night for more information or to set up your consultation today.

If you have been arrested for DUI or traffic crimes such as:

Don’t delay. You need to contact a traffic crime attorney, today.

If you are charged with DUI or a BUI and then convicted you could lose your job, driving privileges, and your freedom. A criminal record not only affects you—it affects your family and friends. That’s why choosing the right attorney is critical. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you reduce your charges, or have them dropped. If you need legal help, contact the Law Offices of Yale Galanter, P.A., today. Call Yale Galanter at (305)576-0244 or (954)524-6600, or browse through the rest of our site.