Boating Under the Influence Diversion Program Hits Miami Waters

The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office is rolling out a new Boating Under The Influence Diversion Program, following the highly successful DUI Back on Track Diversion Program (motor vehicles) started in 2011. While the first job of a defense attorney is to investigate and defend criminal charges for their client, the BUI Diversion Program may be an option for many first offenders.

What are the differences between BUI and DUI?

Other than the obvious difference that one offense is on the water and the other on land, there's a bit of divergence between the two.

How Laws Are Different for Vessels

Under state law, there are key differences between driving under the influence (DUI) and boating under the influence (BUI). On the road, an officer needs probable cause to stop you for a suspected DUI, but on the water, law enforcement does NOT need a reason to stop your boat to ensure it complies with the laws and restrictions for operating a watercraft.

BUI officers can order you to stop your boat if they believe you are violating a regulation or are speeding, but they can also randomly stop you to inspect your equipment, check for a fishing compliance, or ensure you have your safety registration on board. Once aboard your boat, the officers can ask you to partake in a hand-held breath test, complete sobriety exercises, or take a chemical test via blood, breath, or urine. Here's a video showing how a BUI can easily result in an arrest.

How Are The Penalties Different?

  • A BUI conviction will not result in a driver license suspension
  • A BUI conviction does not require the completion of the DUI alcohol and substance abuse program, though it does require a substance abuse evaluation and treatment if required
  • A BUI conviction requires completion of an approved boating education course
  • A BUI conviction does not require an Ignition Interlock Device

What's the new program about?

Once completed, the State Attorney's Office will reduce the BUI charge to Reckless Boating, a lesser charge, and offer a withhold of adjudication (no criminal conviction). That can allow us to have your arrest record sealed. I'm working with the SAO Division Chief to hammer out some dents in the program structure, but as of today (November 21, 2020), this is how it looks:

BACK ON TRACK PROGRAM / BUI’S

ONCE COMPLETED, THE BUI WOULD BE AMENDED TO A RECKLESS BOATING 327.33(1) AND RECEIVE A WITHHOLD OF ADJUDICATION ***

TIER ONE: BREATH/BLOOD/URINE BELOW .15/ CANNABIS

  • The term of the program will be 6 months of which you must report monthly and submit to random alcohol and drug testing.
  • Must complete DUI school within the first 3 months of the program.
  • Must complete a substance abuse evaluation, conducted by DUI School, within 1 month of enrollment, and treatment if mandated within the term of the program.
  • Must complete 40 hours of community service.
  • Must complete a 2-hour Victim Impact Panel class.
  • Must complete the online Boating Safety Education Course.
    • Must show Certificate of Completion dated post BUI arrest date.
  • Must complete 1 month of remote breath during the term of the program.
  • You will be required to pay:
    • $500.00 for the cost of supervision
    • $300.00 towards a victim services/enforcement fund donation.
    • $50.00 towards cost of prosecution.
    • DUI School, drug testing fees, and treatment fees (if necessary) as required by the provider.
    • Cost Recovery to Law Enforcement as determined by your case.
    • Court Cost

TIER TWO: BREATH/BLOOD/URINE OF .15 TO .25/REFUSALS/CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE

  • The term of the program will be 9 months of which you must report monthly and submit to random alcohol and drug testing.
  • Must complete DUI school within the first 3 months of the program.
  • Must complete a substance abuse evaluation, conducted by DUI School, within 1 month of enrollment, and treatment if mandated within the term of the program.
  • Must complete 60 hours of community service.
  • Must complete a 2-hour Victim Impact Panel class.
  • Must complete the online Boating Safety Education Course.
    • Must show Certificate of Completion dated post BUI arrest date.
  • Must complete 3 months of remote breath during the term of the program.
  • You will be required to pay:
    • $650.00 for the cost of supervision
    • $500.00 towards a victim services/enforcement fund donation.
    • $50.00 towards cost of prosecution.
    • DUI School, drug testing fees, and treatment fees (if necessary) as required by the provider.
    • Cost Recovery to Law Enforcement as determined by your case.
    • Court Cost

While this is a great start, but requiring "DUI school" is a mistake for several reasons:

  1. DUI school is based on DRIVING A CAR and not a vessel and isn't even required under the BUI statute
  2. DUI school completion will appear on a person's motor vehicle record
  3. DUI school completion may result in automobile insurance cancellation, non-renewal or increased premiums
  4. DUI school completion may result in employment consequences

*** program description provided by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office and The Advocate Program

For over 30 years and over 5,000 DUI/BUI and Criminal cases, Miami lawyer Jonathan Blecher has successfully defended otherwise good people charged with DUI, BUI and other Criminal Offenses. call us for a free, no obligation consultation at (305) 321-3237.

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