You can be arrested if you are driving (or in control) of the boat at the same time you are under the influence of alcohol and or other substances which impair your abilities.
(1) A person is guilty of the offense of boating under the influence and is subject to punishment as provided in subsection (2) if the person is operating a vessel within this state and:
(a) The person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in s. 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893, when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired;
(b) The person has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or
(c) The person has a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
Can my driver’s license be suspended because of a BUI arrest/conviction?
There is nothing in the State Statute which specifically states your driver's license will/can be suspended because of a BUI. However, if you have a subsequent DUI conviction the earlier BUI conviction will count as though it was a previous DUI conviction which will affect your driving privileges.
Do I have to perform Field Sobriety Exercises if suspected of BUI?
The driver/operator of the vessel does not have to perform Field Sobriety Exercises when asked to perform them, however, the law enforcement officer will probably make note of this refusal and may take it into consideration when determining whether you are BUI or not.
What is different about the FSE’s on a boat/vessel versus a motor vehicle stop?
The Field Sobriety Exercises (FSEs) typically used for roadside investigations of DUI investigations were designed to be performed while the subject is standing on a firm, stable, flat surface. This is normally not available during a BUI stop/investigation.
FSE's suitable for use in a BUI investigation are called the “Seated FSEs” which are designed to be performed with the suspect in a seated position while in a patrol boat and rely on the concept of divided attention.
The “Seated FSEs” consists of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, Finger to Nose, Palm Pat and Hand Coordination. The first three can be used when roadside DUI investigations are conducted but the Hand Coordination exercise mimics the roadside FSE Walk-and-Turn by having the suspect performing a walking motion with their fists minus any reliance on balance.
Do I have to give a breath or urine or blood sample?
Florida's implied consent statute applies to breath, urine, and blood tests in BUI cases just as it does in DUI cases. See Florida Statute Section 327.35, 327.352, and 327.354.
Under what circumstances can a law enforcement officer board my boat/vessel?
Law enforcement officers with the Coast Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, sheriff's deputies of the various counties in Florida, and any other authorized enforcement officer, have the authority to enforce boating safety laws, cause an inspection of a vessel, and require the removal of a boat deemed to be a hazard to public safety.
A law enforcement officer may stop any vessel to check for compliance with boating safety equipment requirements, whether the vessel is numbered, unnumbered or documented.
Law enforcement agencies have the right to conduct a stop of the boat to investigate whether the operator of the boat is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
BUI officers can conduct the stop when they have probable cause to believe a boat is violating a regulation or speeding. In certain cases, the BUI officers can stop a boat for a random inspection related to an equipment check, fishing compliance or safety registration.
The officer can ask the operator of the boat to perform a hand-held breath test or complete a series of sobriety exercises, or chemical tests of the boater's blood, breath or urine.