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Heading out on the water? Beware of drunk boating patrols

In our last post, we examined the rights drivers have when it comes to roadside breath tests in Florida. In this post, we will discuss a little more about drunk driving, but in this case, there is no "roadside."

Boating while intoxicated is an issue Florida authorities take very seriously, and it is one you should also take seriously. This can be especially true over holiday weekends, like the Fourth of July when you may be more likely to get stopped by police. During these times, law enforcement agents across the country ramp up enforcement efforts to stop people from operating a boat while intoxicated. If you plan to be out on the water this weekend, here is what you need to know.

First, you should understand that it is not necessarily illegal to have a drink while operating a boat. In this state, you can drink while operating a boat as long as you are not impaired and are not considered legally intoxicated, which aren't necessarily the same thing. You can be impaired without having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent, which is the legal limit for operating a boat and a car.

You should also understand that police can stop you and administer field sobriety tests and breath tests, just as they can do on any Florida road. Sometimes, they may just stop and talk to you while performing a safety check. If they suspect intoxication, the can request testing and arrest you.

Finally, you will still face criminal charges if you cause an accident while drunk boating. Whether you are a Florida resident or travel here from another state, a drunk boating offense could seriously disrupt your holiday plans. If you are ultimately convicted, it can also affect your driving privileges, your finances, your criminal record and your freedom.

We hope that everyone stays safe this weekend, and increased patrols will be out on the water enforcing boating laws to see that this happens. However, this can lead to aggressive and overzealous efforts to stop and arrest people. If you are among those who are arrested for BUI this weekend, you need to act fast to protect yourself and your rights.

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