DUI Penalties continue to have far reaching consequences. A DUI conviction can affect a person's ability to obtain boating insurance and may prevent them from getting a Captain's license issued by the US Coast Guard.
Boaters Can Feel the Effects of DUI on Both Land and Sea
Almost everyone knows that a DUI can affect their driver's license and may also cause significantly higher auto insurance rates. However, many would be surprised to learn that a DUI charge can also affect a person's ability to obtain a captain's license for boating. Of course, with over 1 million registered boats in the State of Florida, the impact of a DUI on a person's boating privilege is especially relevant.
A High Insurance Premium... for Cars AND Boats
One issue that concerns all boaters, whether they are simply recreational fishermen or run a charter boating business, is the availability of boater's insurance. Due to the substantial lawsuit that could result from a boating accident, having boaters insurance is a common sense precaution. Unfortunately for people convicted of a DUI, insurance companies may use the case as a pretense for charging very high premiums on a boating insurance policy, or to deny coverage completely. In many circumstances, a large increase in insurance premiums (both boats and auto) could have been prevented by obtaining a more beneficial resolution to the DUI case (such as a reduction of the charges to "Reckless Driving").
A DUI could affect your ability to obtain a captain's license through the US Coast Guard. Any boater, who takes on paying passengers, must obtain an "OUPV" license from the US Coast Guard. The license is commonly referred to as a "6-pack" charter boat captain's license because it allows the captain to have a maximum of 6 paying passengers. However, many people seek to obtain a captain's license even if they don't intend to ever take on paying passengers. Rather, obtaining a captain's license can be fueled by the desire to sharpen their boating skills or to qualify for self-chartered boat rentals.
When applying for a "6-pack" license an applicant must disclose all cases where they were convicted of DUI or where they suffered a drivers license suspension for refusing to submit to a required alcohol or drug test. It is also a requirement that applicants disclose convictions related to drug charges.
What About a Withholding of Adjudication?
It is important to note that the word “conviction” is defined very broadly by the Department of Homeland Security. The application warns that a “conviction” includes cases even where adjudication of guilt was withheld.
Practical Advice for the Aspiring Captain
After a certain period of time, the Coast Guard may no longer consider a DUI charge to be a "disqualifying offense." For first-time DUI offenders, the conviction must be over 1 year old and the period of probation must have already ended. For a multiple DUI offender, the time period is 3 years.
Federal law specifically lays out several factors to be examined when an applicant has DUI or drug convictions in their past. An applicant may be able to demonstrate to the Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection (OCMI) that they should still be eligible for the license through a variety of factors:
- Completion of Drug or Alcohol Abuse Program
- Active membership in a group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous
- Character references, concerning sobriety and reliability of the applicant
- Regular employment
- Compliance with all requirements of parole and probation or other jail alternatives
The Ever Growing List of DUI Penalties
Year after year, the folks in Tallahassee have piled on more and more Florida DUI penalties in order to maintain an image as "tough on crime." As a result, a first time DUI offender may now faces a long list of counseling requirements, DUI courses, community service, fines and the installation of an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. In addition, there are other "side effects" of a DUI conviction, such as high insurance premiums and driver's license suspensions. This "spill over effect" is all the more apparent when one considers the potential impact on other types of licenses, be they a captain's license, a pilot's license, or a professional or contractor license.
If you or someone you know is charged with a DUI, call our office first. We are experienced St. Petersburg / Clearwater DUI and criminal defense attorneys who focus exclusively on DUI and other criminal cases arising out of Pinellas County. We can properly evaluate your DUI case and explain all of your options.
For additional information on DUI and Your Captain’s License:
For Comprehensive Information on a Pinellas DUI:
You Can also Visit our Criminal Defense Website for information and help with other criminal offenses at: www.defensehelp.com
Learn how we can help you Recover for Injuries Sustained in a Boating Accident at: www.injuryorarrest.com
Links:USCG Magnitude of Alcohol Problems & Related Maritime Accidents