Boating under the influence (BUI) can result in multiple consequences. However, before they can charge you with a BUI, they first have to test your blood alcohol content (BAC). But can you refuse a BUI test in Florida?
The fact is that there are consequences for refusing a BUI test when requested by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) officer. It may be just a fine for first offenders, but repeat refusals of BUI, as in DUI, carry serious consequences. If you have been charged with a BUI in Florida, get in touch with the Law Office of Robert H. Hanaford today. We can help you build a solid case to contest the fine or charges.
What Is a BUI Charge in Florida?
- Operating a vessel with a breath/blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher
- BAC level equal to or greater than 0.02% for minors under 21 years
- Boating while impaired by alcohol or other drugs that affect your normal faculties
In this context, a vessel refers to boats, barges, powerboats, waterskiing, jet skis, or any means of transportation on water.
In Florida, boating under the influence is guided by stringent laws, just like driving under the influence. If you’re facing any BUI-related charges, speak to a criminal defense attorney for professional legal advice about your available options.
The Consequences of Refusing a BUI Test in Florida
Technically, when an FFWCC officer suspects you of impairment, they may stop you and request you to submit to a BUI test. This may include a breathalyzer or obtaining a sample of your blood or urine for testing. In Florida, the officer cannot force you to take this test. However, you won’t be without consequence either if you refuse. This is because of the implied consent law.
The implied consent law states that by operating a vessel or vehicle, you consent to a drug test upon request by a law enforcement officer, and refusing to submit to such a test carries penalties.
In the case of resisting a BUI test, the penalties include:
- A civil fine of $500
- Revocation of operating the vessel until the penalty is paid
- Future refusals carry a possible first-degree misdemeanor charge
For those facing a BUI test refusal charge for the first time, the consequence is a $500 fine. Refusing a breathalyzer or any BUI test if you have a previous BUI or DUI refusal can lead to arrest and first-degree misdemeanor charges against you. However, rejecting a BUI test doesn’t affect your driving record.
Common Reasons for Refusing a BUI Test
If you believe that you’re sober, there is no valid reason why you should refuse a BUI test. However, if you submit to the BUI test and the results come out with a BAC of 0.08% or more, this can act as solid evidence against you for BUI. It will be up to you and your lawyer to create a defense against these charges.
Some other reasons other individuals may refuse to give in to a BUI test may include:
- Anxiety or other mental health conditions may hinder the person from taking the test, though the officer may still record it as a refusal
- Language hindrance in the case where the language spoken by the officer isn’t understandable by the boat operator
- Lack of patience by some officers can also be the reason they may claim that you refused to submit to the tests
If you have a valid reason why you refused a breathalyzer, you have the right to contest the fine or any related charges against you. Working with a defense attorney is crucial at this stage to obtain optimal results.
Consult a Skilled Florida BUI Lawyer Today
Getting stopped by a law enforcement officer while boating for a BUI test isn’t uncommon in Florida. Accepting to get tested can give crucial evidence for BUI-related charges if you’re found intoxicated. On the other hand, refusing to take the test also carries its own consequences. However, with our defense attorneys on your side, you can contest the fine or any charge that emanates from opting for either of the options.
Our team at the Law Office of Robert H. Hanaford Law has years of experience handling BUI cases in Florida. We’re ready to help you navigate this unknown landscape easily. Get in touch today by calling us at (239) 315-9750 or submitting our form online to schedule a confidential consultation with a Florida BUI lawyer. We will work with you every step of the way.