Florida law prohibits you from driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the law also applies to operating a boat. Just like a motor vehicle, a watercraft is a large machine that is capable of injuring others and damaging property when operated incorrectly.

Florida’s state laws explicitly prohibit operating a vessel (such as a yacht or a boat) while influenced by alcohol or drugs.

Alcoholic and chemical substances

The website of the Florida Legislature provides information on the state’s laws, including Statute 327.35, which covers boating under the influence. According to this statute, you may get charged with BUI if you exhibit impairment to your normal faculties due to chemical substances, alcohol or controlled substances. The law provides details on the legal limits of both breath-alcohol levels and blood-alcohol levels.

Penalties

The penalties for BUI vary depending on whether you have any prior convictions for BUI. For example, your first conviction for BUI may lead to a fine between $500 and $1,000 and up to six months in jail. However, a second conviction may include up to nine months of imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,000. The charge changes to a third-degree felony if you get a third conviction within 10 years of a prior conviction.

Punishments may be more severe if you participate in other crimes while boating under the influence. For example, if you cause property damage or injure a person, you may end up with felony convictions, jail time and large fines. The severity of the crimes and other extenuating circumstances may influence your sentence and your probation terms. The Florida Legislature encourages you to name a designated driver for your boat if you choose to consume alcohol.