BUI Video: Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit Out for the 4th of July

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is really putting out some impressive videos. This video discusses boating under the influence (BUI) and boater safety enforcement in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL.  The HCSO Marine Unit enforces the laws on Hillsborough County’s waterways including investigating boaters under the influence of alcohol, performing safety and equipment checks, and checking for compliance with no-wake zones and slow zones.

Florida’s Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Laws

Under current Florida law, open containers of alcohol are allowed on water vessels and boats. However, the operator of the boat may not be under the influence of alcohol. Florida law provides for two different ways of proving boating under the influence of alcohol (BUI) including the per se version of BUI which creates a presumption of impairment if the boater’s blood or breath alcohol content (BAC or BAL) is over the .08 legal limit. The other way of proving BUI requires a showing that the operator’s “normal faculties” are impaired from drug or alcohol intoxication.

Florida law also imposes a zero-tolerance version of BUI for any person under the age of 21 who operates or is actual physical control of a watercraft who has a breath or blood alcohol content of .02 or higher.

Florida Boating Safety Equipment and Lighting Requirements

The operator or owner of any boat that does not contain certain safety equipment can receive a civil citation. Non-moving citations can impose a fine of $53 and moving citations can require a fine of $90 per infraction. Under Florida law, boaters must follow the following lighting and equipment rules:

  • The operator or owner of any watercraft must maintain on the boat certain safety equipment required by the United States Coast Guard (USCG);
  • Any child under the age of 6 must wear a USCG-approved Type I, Type II, or Type III PFD while on any boat measuring under 26 feet in length (except when the boat is moored, anchored, or aground.
  • All water vessels must carry enough USCG-approved wearable life jackets or personal flotation devises that are within easy access, in working condition, and the appropriate size for each passenger;
  • Watercrafts that measure 16 feet or longer must also carry at least on USCG-approved Type IV personal flotation devises that can be immediately used if a passenger falls overboard;
  • All boats must carry a referee’s whistle or other similar sound-producing device;
  • Any boat that measures less than 16 feet in length must have at least three (3) visual distress signals approved for use after dark if the boat is on the water after dark. Any boat that measures 16 feet or more must carry the three (3) visual distress signals at all times;
  • Any boat with an enclosed compartment where gasoline fumes can accumulate or any boath with a build in fuel tank must carry at least one fire extinguisher approved for boating. Depending on the length of the boat, additional fire extinguishers may be required;
  • Boats must use navigation lights after dark and during any period of reduced visibility such as fog or rain. Specific lighting requirements are imposed by the United States Coast Guard Navigation Rules for different types of boats.

At the Sammis Law Firm, we represent boaters charged with boating under the influence (BUI) and other boating related offenses under Florida law. Find out more about Florida’s BUI Boating under the Influence Laws. Call 813-250-0500 to speak directly with a Tampa’s Boating under the Influence BUI Attorney about the particular facts of your case.

Keep in mind that while you enjoy Hillsborough County’s waterways the HCSO’s Marine Patrol will be out in full force. Plan ahead and stay safe this 4th of July!

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