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Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

Boating is one of Floridians' favorite recreational activities. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Division of Law Enforcement, there were 873, 507 registered vessels in Florida--more than any other state in the U.S.

The majority of those vessels, 62, 645, are registered to owners in Miami-Dade County. Miami-Dade County has the most registered vessels of all of the counties in Florida. The nearest county has over 20,000 less registered vessels.

With such a high number of vessels, boating accidents are inevitable. In 2014 Florida led the nation with the highest number of boating accidents. Last year 581 boating accidents occurred. Alcohol was the 8th leading cause of boating accidents across the state.

In Miami-Dade County, alone, there were 96 accidents, resulting in 74 injuries and 3 fatalities. As a result, law enforcement and prosecutors take boating under the influence very seriously and heavily prosecute individuals suspected of BUI.

Lawyer for BUI Arrests in Miami, FL

If you have been charged with boating under the influence for allegedly operating a boat, Jet Ski, speedboat, or other watercraft, it is imperative to consult an experienced boating under the influence lawyer.

A conviction for BUI has several negative influences, including a criminal record, driver's license suspension, jail time, and/or steep fines. A skilled BUI defense lawyer has the experience and knowledge to appropriately examine the evidence against you and build the strongest defense possible on your behalf.

Evan Hoffman of The Hoffman Firm is a former prosecutor, who has prosecuted countless DUI and BUI cases. He knows the tactics and strategies used by prosecutors and will use them to obtain the most favorable result in your case.

Contact The Hoffman Firm at (305) 249-0090 or submit an online form to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your legal options. The Hoffman Firm proudly defends individuals throughout Miami-Dade County, including Miami, Miami Beach, North Miami, Miami Gardens, and surrounding cities.

Florida Boating Under the Influence Information Center


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Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

Under F.S. § 327.35 an individual is guilty of boating under the influence (BUI) if he or she is operating a vessel within the state of Florida and the following conditions are present:

  • The driver has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood;
  • The driver has a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath; or
  • The driver is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance, and/or controlled substance and is affected to the extent that normal faculties are impaired.

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BUI Penalties in Miami

For a first BUI conviction, the individual may face the following criminal penalties:

  • A fine of not less than $500 or more than $1,000; and/or
  • Imprisonment for not more than 6 months.

The criminal penalties for a second BUI conviction are more severe and are as follows:

  • A fine of not less than $1,000 or more than $2,000
  • Imprisonment for not more than 9 months

The criminal penalties for a third BUI depend on the time since the last BUI conviction. A third BUI within 10 years of a previous BUI conviction is considered a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine of no more than $5,000.

An individual convicted of BUI more than 10 years after the previous offense faces the following criminal penalties:

  • A fine not less than $2,000 or more than $5,000
  • Imprisonment for not more than 12 months

An individual convicted for a fourth or subsequent BUI commits a felony of the third- degree regardless of when any prior conviction for BUI occurred.


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BUI with Property Damage

The aforementioned criminal penalties govern BUI charges when there was no property damage, serious injury to another person, or death of another. Florida law imposes stiffer criminal penalties when property damage occurs.

Any person who operates a vessel under the influence of drugs or alcohol and by reason of operation causes or contributes to causing damage to property or another person commits a first-degree misdemeanor.

A first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by punishable by imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000.


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BUI with Serious Bodily Injury

An individual who commits BUI and causes or contributes to the cause of serious bodily injury to another commits a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine of no more than $5,000.

Serious bodily injury under Florida law is defined as an injury to any person, including the operator, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ


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BUI Manslaughter

If death occurs while an individual is boating under the influence, the operator may be charged with BUI manslaughter. BUI manslaughter is a first-degree or second-degree felony depending on the particular facts of the case.

An individual may be charged with second-degree felony BUI manslaughter if the death of another occurs. A second-degree felony is punishable by a prison term of up to 15 years and a fine of not more than $10,000.

The criminal penalties for BUI manslaughter substantially increase if the operator knew or should have known an accident occurred and failed to give information and render aid as required under Florida law.

A conviction under this provision is considered a first-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.


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Florida BUI Resources

Florida Vessel Owners Boating Safety & Education- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a directory of approved Boating Safety Education Course providers. In these courses, Floridians will receive useful information about safety equipment, Florida boating laws, and statistics on boating accidents. Access the link for more information.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission ǀ 2015 Boating Accidents Statistical Report- Annually, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission releases a boating accidents statistical report. The report shows the number of registered vessels, accidents, the cause of accidents, and other valuable information about boating in Florida. Access the link for more information.


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The Hoffman Firm | BUI Lawyer in Miami, Florida

The criminal penalties for BUI are severe and can be devastating both professionally and personally. It is highly recommended to consult an experienced BUI defense lawyer. Evan Hoffman of The Hoffman Firm has years of experience in boating under the influence (BUI), driving under the influence (DUI),  and driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) cases. 

Contact The Hoffman Firm at (305) 249-0090 or submit an online form to start building your defense today. The Hoffman Firm strongly defends individuals charged with DUI throughout Miami-Dade County, including North Miami, Miami Beach, Miami, Hialeah, Opa-Locka, and surrounding areas.


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All fields are required. The use of this form for communication with our personnel does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Evan A. Hoffman

Evan A. Hoffman

Mr. Hoffman’s philosophy is "our knowledge and experience is your best defense." He has been a featured author on criminal law issues such as driving under the influence, domestic violence and illegal searches.

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If you received any kind of traffic violation in the Miami area call The Hoffman Firm today.

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