Gasparilla is right around the corner, and that means Tampa law enforcement will be out in force on the water. Many people like to celebrate Gasparilla on their boats and by bringing along plenty of alcohol. Before you read any further about boating under the influence, here’s some free advice: have someone be the DD captain for your boat. If you’re drunk, don’t get behind the wheel, helm, tiller, or rudder.
Right now convictions for boating under the influence (BUI) aren’t recorded on your permanent driving record. This means that if you have a BUI conviction and are charged with a DUI, it will only be considered your first DUI offense. You will not face the enhanced penalties that come with a second DUI conviction.
One Florida lawmaker is trying to change that, and has filed a bill that will make any BUI convictions a part of a person’s permanent driving record. If this bill passes any BUI conviction will act as a “prior conviction” if you are charged with a DUI. This means you will face increased penalties and fines.
The penalties for a BUI conviction are very similar to those for a DUI:
- $500 fine;
- 6 months probation;
- 50 hours of community service;
- DUI school / substance abuse counseling; and
- A 10-day vessel impound.
Be careful out there. If you’ve had too much grog, get someone else to drive the boat. Having a sober captain is the easiest way to avoid a BUI conviction.