Staying overnight, drinking at anchor?

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Boattronics's Avatar
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    Staying overnight, drinking at anchor?

    Im wondering.... when you anchor up for an overnight stay, is it okay to have a few drinks after safely anchoring, or could you still get a bui? What are any details pertaining to this question? State waters vs international, small open boat vs cabin yacht, etc?
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Boattronics's Avatar
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    Not to compicate the question, but it seems it can get complicated very quickly.......

    I ask this question after stumbling across an argument on another boating forum, that never got a direct answer from an LEO. There were very good "arguments" made for both sides.

    I was under the impression that anchoring for the night would not be considered "operating" the "vehicle" but it seems it could be? Obviously, situations can occur that need sober attention after anchoring, like slipping, swinging unsafely under current or wind, etc. So does that mean a sober person that can operate the vessel must be present for say, the "Captain" to avoid arrest? Or could the "captain" still be arrested if the keys are in the vessel?

    Complications for this answer include...... what if you are tied up at a dock? What if you are moored? Technicly, there are situations were folks even own their mooring, further complicating that answer. (They are moored on their own property) What if a real genius (lol) anchored his keys overboard for a morning dive rescue?

    Okay, I know that sounded silly, but just pointing out the law seems to be very vague on this one. Is it completely up to the interpretation from the officer? This got me thinking about a trip Ill do in the near future. I love my little boat (Hewes 18 Redfisher) soo much, that spending the night on it during an "Epic" (lol) long range fishing adventure is not out of the question, Ive done it before. What if I was anchored up, tucked away in my sleeping bag, with evidence of intoxication when approached by an LEO? I would imagine a vessel with a locking cabin would get more leaniant response in this situation, but without merit.

    Anyway, I was hoping I could get a solid answer on this subject, and any other info availible.
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  3. #3
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    That is a good question.

    All I know is that a LEO can issue a ticket to a person sitting and drinking in a vehicle if your keys are in within your reach. (Even if the keys are in your pocket). To beat this rap you need to place your keys outside the vehicle. (Like on a tire and outside your reach.) However, RV's come under different rules.

    I would imagine that a LEO could issue a BUI if all persons aboard the boat were intoxicated, but that is only a guess, and I'm not an attorney or a LEO.

  4. #4
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    You are ok federally (Coast Guard) but as soon as you pull anchor you are not. I am not sure about the state ( FWC and Locals). But thinking back to drinking on the sand bar in the Keys, people never get picked up by the state or local guys.

  5. #5
    Moderator Panhandler80's Avatar
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    I think you're allowed to be drunk as a coot as long as your on anchor. Where you might run into trouble is if you are the "captain" (rented boat, owner, the guy that pulled her out of the slip, the guy that borrowed it, etc) and somebody is hurt while you're intoxicated and the two can be linked somehow. Captain is responsible for the crew.

    Here's another wrinkle in it... how does your liability exposure change if it's say... on anchor at sea. On anchor in a protected area. Tied up in a transient slip having folks over. Tied up at full time slip where the boat is really nothing more than a full time slip. Obviosly the Capt has less and less responsibility as the operator as you look at each one of these. Pretty sure this is why we havce LEOs and we have lawyers. Lots of grey area.

    Here's another question... I've always wondered what would happen if you got pulled over while actually operating the boat. If you knew you were over the limit, what would happen if you dropped the hook, told marine patrol you're camping out and then took three or four big ol' gulps of whiskey right in front him and that he can kiss your butt if he thinks you're going to give a breath test after doing that (which you did after the engine was killed and anchor dropped). Prove that I was over the limit when you pulled me over.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Anclote Key's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panhandler80 View Post
    Here's another question... I've always wondered what would happen if you got pulled over while actually operating the boat. If you knew you were over the limit, what would happen if you dropped the hook, told marine patrol you're camping out and then took three or four big ol' gulps of whiskey right in front him and that he can kiss your butt if he thinks you're going to give a breath test after doing that (which you did after the engine was killed and anchor dropped). Prove that I was over the limit when you pulled me over.
    I don't see that ending well.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boattronics View Post
    Im wondering.... when you anchor up for an overnight stay, is it okay to have a few drinks after safely anchoring, or could you still get a bui? What are any details pertaining to this question? State waters vs international, small open boat vs cabin yacht, etc?
    The BUI statute says:
    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.

    The key to the law is found in the legal definition of "operate":

    “Operate” means to be in charge of or in command of or in actual physical control of a vessel upon the waters of this state, or to exercise control over or to have responsibility for a vessel’s navigation or safety while the vessel is underway upon the waters of this state, or to control or steer a vessel being towed by another vessel upon the waters of the state.

    The answer to your question is YES. If you are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, to the point where your normal faculties are impaired, you can be arrested for BUI on an anchored boat. That said, officers don't typically target anchored boats for BUI, as it is not the intent of the law. The definition of operate was changed several years ago, in response to a tragic crash that took the life of a young woman: The very intoxicated operator of a boat full of young people left the helm, while the boat was running on plane, to relieve himself at the stern. The boat hit a channel marker and one of his passengers was killed instantly. The operator was acquitted at trial because, under the old definition, he was not in "actual physical control" of the boat at the time of the crash.

  8. #8
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    Is there a higher standard for a licensed captain? I recall taking the course and it is the responsibility for a captain to attempt avoid any collision.
    Old School Forum Member

  9. #9
    Junior Member Mid Ocean's Avatar
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    A vessel is either under way or not. To not be underway the vessel must be secured to the dock or the bottom via anchor or mooring device(or aground). Even if the vessel is drifting it's underway as opposed to running where then the vessel is underway and MAKING WAY. As the previous poster noted, it is not the intent of the law to impose on those who don't intend to operate the vessel while impaired.

    BUI is a national epidemic and one that needs to be addressed aggressively. Every minute a LEO spends with an anchored vessel is a minute he's not going after the real offenders.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Reelhoot's Avatar
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    I think the name of the boat in the pic says it all-TEMPORARY INSANITY II-meaning he did it before?
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