Boating is becoming an increasingly popular water sport in Bradenton and across the State of Florida. With a vast number of boats taking to the water every day, it is no surprise that boating accidents occur. Accidents are increasingly likely if you are boating under the influence (BUI), and if caught, you may find yourself facing serious consequences.
If you are facing criminal charges for a BUI in Bradenton, then it is likely that you are feeling apprehensive and worried. At The Law Place, our attorneys understand how daunting criminal charges can be and how complex the Florida legal system is. By seeking the representation of a criminal defense lawyer from The Law Place, you can feel confident that your case is in knowledgeable hands. At our law firm, we have over 75 years of combined experience in handling BUI cases, as well as other related practice areas.
Our Bradenton phone lines are open around the clock, so you can call us at any time of day, and our criminal defense lawyers will be on hand to help. At our law firm, we offer all our customers a free consultation where we will assess the legitimacy of your case and provide valuable legal advice on the next best steps to take, all at no obligation. Call our Bradenton, FL., offices on (941) 444-4444 and arrange a free case evaluation today.
How Can Boating Under the Influence Be Defined?
As stated in Florida Statute 327.35, it is illegal for a person to operate a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Vessels are defined as a mode of transport that can be operated upon the water and includes all barges, watercraft, and airboats. Under Florida law, a person can be arrested and convicted with a BUI if they are found to be operating a vessel on the water and meet the following criteria:
- Your blood level or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) is at 0.08% or more.
- Alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two is affecting and impairing your normal faculties.
A person who is seen to have their normal faculties impaired could be lacking the ability to complete simple mental and physical acts of daily life normally. They may also be lacking the ability to talk, walk, see, make decisions, and judge distances. If a law enforcement officer believes that you are boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then it is within their rights to tow your boat to shore and carry out field sobriety tests, which assesses whether you can function normally.
If you have been arrested for boating under the influence (BUI), then it is strongly recommended to seek the help and guidance of a criminal defense attorney. At The Law Place, our lawyers will fight for your rights and ensure you receive the best outcome possible. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation.
Is Boating Under the Influence Classed as a Felony?
Depending on the circumstances of the BUI arrest, if it is your first or second time committing the offense, then it is likely that you will be charged with a misdemeanor. However, if you are caught boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs on three or more occasions, then you will become known as a habitual offender, and as a result, your penalties will be elevated.
A third BUI conviction is classified as a third-degree felony charge. However, this is only applicable if you committed a BUI offense within 10 years of your prior conviction. A fourth or any further convictions will automatically be classified as a third-degree felony.
It is also worthwhile noting that if your BUI arrest resulted in manslaughter, then you may be penalized with either a second-degree or first-degree felony, depending on the circumstances surrounding the case.
In order to fully understand the charges you may be facing as a result of your BUI arrest, it is advised to seek the knowledge of a criminal defense lawyer. At The Law Place, our lawyers are happy to answer any questions you may have, as well as offer comprehensive legal advice on the next best steps to take with your case.
What Happens if You Are Caught Boating Under the Influence in Florida?
The severity of the punishments that you may face following an arrest for BUI will depend on a number of factors. Such factors include whether the operator of the vessel:
- Has received prior convictions for boating under the influence (BUI) or driving under the influence (DUI).
- Was found to have an extremely high blood alcohol concentration.
- Contributed or caused an accident that resulted in property damage, injury, or even death.
- Had passengers under the age of 18 onboard the vessel when they were caught boating under the influence by law enforcement.
Penalties for a First-Offense BUI in Bradenton, FL.
If this is your first time receiving criminal charges for a BUI offense in Florida, then it is likely that you will be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. Penalties for a second-degree misdemeanor include a fine of between $500 and $1,000 and a maximum prison sentence of 6 months. If you have a clean criminal record and have not received any prior convictions, then it is unlikely that you will be sentenced to jail time. However, this is circumstantial.
Your penalties may be elevated further if any of the following are applicable at the time of arrest:
- If your blood alcohol concentration is found to be at least 0.15%, or if there was a minor present at the time of the arrest, your penalties may increase to 9 months in jail and between $1,000 -$2,000 payable in fines.
- If you were involved in an accident that caused property damage or minor injuries to another person, you might receive a $1,000 fine and a prison sentence of up to a year.
- If your BUI resulted in serious injuries or property damage, you could be sentenced to up to 5 years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
- You can be penalized with a second-degree felony and face a prison sentence of up to 15 years if your BUI caused or contributed to the death of another person.
Penalties for a Second-Offense BUI in Bradenton, FL.
If you have previously been apprehended for a conviction in Bradenton, FL., then you will be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. Penalties for a second-degree misdemeanor include a prison sentence of up to 90 days and between $1,000-$2,000 payable in fines. However, if this is your second BUI offense within 5 years, then you will face a mandatory prison sentence of 10 days, and your vessel may be impounded for 90 days. As with a first-offense BUI, if you had a minor onboard at the time of the arrest, or if your BAC levels came back at 0.15% or higher, then your penalties will be elevated further. As a result, you may face a prison sentence of up to a year and a fine of between $2,000 and $4,000.
Penalties for a Third-Offense BUI in Bradenton, FL.
If you are caught committing a BUI offense for the third time within 10 years of the previous conviction, then you will be charged with a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony charge will result in punishments of up to $5,000 payable in fines and a prison sentence of up to 5 years.
However, if this is your third BUI charge, but the previous conviction was over 10 years ago, then you will be charged with a misdemeanor, which can result in up to a year in prison and between $2,000-$5,000 payable in fines.
No matter whether this is your first or third offense, at The Law Place in Bradenton, we have a team of knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys who are on hand to offer help and support whenever you need it most. Call today to receive a free consultation with an adept and experienced criminal defense attorney.
Contact The Law Place in Bradenton, FL., Today
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges for boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Bradenton, Florida, then it is strongly recommended to seek the knowledge of a reputable law firm. At The Law Place, our team of criminal defense attorneys has a wealth of experience in handling cases involving BUI, as well as many other practice areas.
At our law firm, we understand how daunting facing criminal charges can be, which is why we will do our utmost to ensure you receive the best possible outcome for your case. Our lawyers will work to develop a defense strategy that can stand up in court against the prosecution. A strong defense strategy may be able to reduce or even eliminate the charges you may be facing. A criminal defense attorney will be here to offer legal advice and support you and your case every step of the way.
At our Bradenton, FL., offices, our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so you can call us at a time that suits you, and rest assured one of our criminal defense attorneys will be on hand to offer valuable legal advice and information. Many of our lawyers are AVVO rated 10.0, so you can feel confident that you are receiving valuable legal information from a reputable and knowledgeable attorney. Call us today at (941) 444-4444 and arrange a free case evaluation with an experienced attorney.