Drunk driving a concern at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show

Fort Lauderdale is undoubtedly home to one of the nation’s top beach destinations and the gateway to the Everglades. It is also the Yachting Capital of the World which is not surprisingly why the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show is eagerly awaited every year.

About 100,000 visitors throng the six different venues to get a glimpse of the latest powerboats, sailboats, accessories and equipment, and sales and services. The show presents a fantastic opportunity for attendees to explore the waterways. Transportation between the six venues includes riverboats and water taxis. Many people make their way by road with their boats in tow where the beach-area roads are jammed.

The push for tougher charges

According to Fort Lauderdale DUI attorneys, this is the time when a lot of people get booked for drunk driving on their way to or from the boat show. Piloting a boat while drunk is also an offense as lawmakers propose to introduce tougher laws following as many as 70 accidents last year of which eight were fatal. According to Florida Wildlife Commission’s Baryl Martin, the objective is to make everyone safe on Florida’s waters following the alarming increase in boating accidents.

State Representative Gayle Harrell recently introduced a bill to make anyone who pilots a boat under the influence face charges similar to anyone that is charged with driving under the influence. Under the current law, BUI convictions are not entered on an offender’s driving record.

Consequences of the new law

Fort Lauderdale DUI attorneys say that if the bill becomes law, offenders could have their license suspended for up to 10 years for a prior BUI conviction and two DUIs. A third DUI could result in the cancellation of driving privileges permanently. This could also result in insurance companies raising premiums since offenders would be considered high risk individuals. If the bill finds the approval of lawmakers, the new law could come into effect as early as July this year.

Some attorneys say that several judges have already made efforts to consider any BUI offense when in the process of convicting DUI offenders although it may be considered unconstitutional since boating and driving are different. But they are also very similar according to many people. The latter requires a license while there is no such measure in place for boating. Well, take the boat away. Boats are mainly for recreation anyhow.

Differences between BUI and DUI

According to Fort Lauderdale DUI attorneys, it is important to understand the differences between BUI and DUI in Florida. Under the current law, an individual may be considered to be operating the boat even if they are actually not driving. Police officers currently have the power to stop and board a vessel for any reason while they must have a probable cause to pull over a motor vehicle.

Another major difference is the penalty for refusing a breath, blood, or urine test. While DUI offenders who refuse a test can have their license suspended for a year, those arrested for BUI are currently fined $500 and are charged with first degree misdemeanor for subsequent refusals, similar to DUI refusals.