Many people are confused about the difference between a DUI and a BUI. Did you know that laws on the water are almost completely different to those on land? For that reason alone, there are several characteristics that set the two crimes apart. The most obvious difference is that a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offense occurs in an automobile, while a Boating Under the Influence (BUI) offense occurs while operating a boat.
Evidence Required to Pull Over a Car or Boat
One of the most important differences between DUI and BUI is the type of evidence required to stop a boat or car when a police officer suspects that a driver may impaired. For a police officer to stop a person suspected of DUI, they must have “reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle.” Reasonable suspicion can be garnered from the driving pattern of the vehicle. The driver can also be pulled over for committing a moving violation such as speeding or running a stop sign.
A boater, on the other hand, may be pulled over without cause. Boats can be stopped to check registration or to make sure that the person operating the vessel has the required safety equipment.
Exercises that Determine Your Ability to Operate
When you are stopped for either a DUI or a BUI, the police officer will request that you perform exercises in order to evaluate your ability to operate a vehicle/vessel. When you are stopped for a DUI, you will be asked to walk and turn, stand on one foot and perform other tests demonstrating motor control.
On a rocking boat, the test may be different to take into account the motion of being on the water.
Breath Tests & Fines
Both drivers and boaters may be punished if they fail to submit to a lawful request for a breath sample. The punishment for failure to comply with what is called “implied consent” differs for automobile drivers and boaters. In Florida, refusal to submit to a breath test during a DUI roadside exercise may lead to a 12-month suspension of one’s driver’s license.
For boaters, the penalty for the same action will not result in a suspended license but will subject the boater to a $500 fine. Drivers of both boats and automobiles are subject to a first-degree misdemeanor for refusing to submit to a breath test during a second instance of suspicion.
Persons that have been charged with BUI or DUI should seek immediate assistance from a skilled Florida criminal defense attorney.